- The Alaska Lottery Corporation Act would have made sports betting legal in Alaska.
- AK HB 246 is no longer an option in 2020 with the early shut down of the Alaska State Legislature.
- The possibility of a gambling expansion in the future is possible with the support of Governor Mike Dunleavy.
JUNEAU, Alaska – Hopes were high in the Last Frontier State when Governor Mike Dunleavy proposed the idea of legal sports betting in February. But that idea will remain just an idea because of the unexpected arrival of the Coronavirus.
The Alaska sports betting industry had two bills spearheading the effort to open a gambling scene in Alaska.
Senate Bill 188 and House Bill 246 were a duo of bills that could’ve made multiple forms of gaming legal in Alaska and it was the Governor that proposed the idea himself as a new source of revenue for a state in dire need of it.
Words From The Governor’s Office
Governor Dunleavy’s office spoke to LegalSportsBetting in reference to the fate of House Bill 246 which would have legalized gambling on sporting events for the people of Alaska.
“Governor Mike Dunleavy introduced a bill (AK HB 246) earlier this year establishing a state lottery commission with the ability to also create sports betting. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the legislative session was cut short and the bill expired when the session ended earlier this month,” said Jeff Turner, Deputy Director Of Communications for the Governor on Friday. “Alaska does not have legalized sports betting at this time and no decision has been made to reintroduce the bill.”
What Legal Sports Betting Would Have Brought To Alaska
Senate Bill 188 and House Bill 246 would have catapulted the Frontier State into the age of legal gambling with a plethora of options including mobile sports betting platforms.
Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, Alaska was in great need of funding.
Their fiscal budget was estimating a $1.5 billion deficit because of overall low revenues from various markets statewide.
The introduction of the new gaming industries were slated to bring in at least $100 million a year in revenue and help to slowly close the gap and ease the financial burden plaguing the Frontier State.
Residents of Alaska spend $348 million annually betting on sports using outside platforms. That’s money that could go toward the state rather than allow other operators to profit from hardworking Alaskans.
AK SB 188 and AK HB 246 were both drawn up quickly in February right after the Governor’s announcement.
They were then immediately heard by their respective committees for preliminary readings and introductions. Further hearings were expected to take place but the outbreak of COVID-19 led to an early shutdown of the Alaska State Legislature’s session.
Sports Betting And Gambling Could Be The Next Frontier
The Alaska Lottery Corporation Act is what the duo of bills was known as by lawmakers. Not only was the money expected to help get Alaska out of debt, but there was discussion of other areas where the revenue stream would go, such as state programs like foster care and helping the homeless.
With a state lottery, scratch offs, keno, and sports betting, many gambling efforts were in the cards to become legalized under the Alaska Lottery Corporation Act.
Once the pandemic subsides, the state will be able to properly calculate the hit they’ve taken financially from the virus. With such big funding issues before the added bonus of the COVID-19 fallout, Alaska will need to begin looking for new sources of revenue once again.
Seeing as it was Governor Dunleavy’s idea to bring legal gambling to the state before, having his office reintroduce the proposal in future sessions is a safe bet.
However, there is currently no talk of putting the bills back on the table in the future.
Until talk of legal gambling resurfaces, sports bettors in Alaska will continue to seek online sportsbooks for all of their sports betting needs, putting millions into gambling on sporting events each year.
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Christina has been writing for as long as she can remember and does dedicated research on the newly regulated sports betting market. She comes from a family of sports lovers that engage in friendly bets from time to time. During the winter months, you can find Christina baking cookies and beating the entire staff at Mario Kart…the N64 version of course.