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Do you think this initiative will pass in 2006?
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Alaska Gambling: Pulltabs, Casinos & Poker

Gambling in Alaska can be a tricky business. You won't find full-blown casinos here. With a variety of laws and areas of thick bureaucracy to overcome, the gambling business must often drive through many barriers before even being allowed to mention the word ‘gambling’ within the state of Alaska.

Alaska Pull Tabs & Bingo

Atka Ira Council
Klawock IRA Pull Tab Shoppe
Metlakatla Indian Community Bingo
Native Village Barrow Pull Tabs
Organized Village of Kake Bingo
Shoonaq’ Tribal Bingo
Sitka Tribal Bingo
Tlingit and Haida Indians of CBJ Bingo
In the state of Alaska, to legalise any form of gambling, ranging from pulltab shopes, to lottery to a casino, the applicant is requested to put forward a discussion toward the State House, who will then discuss and vote on the bill. This is simply because they have yet to allow any form of Alaskan gambling without any permits from the State House and the government to date.

The Alaskan State House had a continuing trend throughout the past few decades of simply not allowing any form of casinos or gambling at all, from the simple games such as poker to even the more tranquil lottery. These seemingly progressing negative trends have recently changed. In May of 2005, the State House voted to legalise: poker, bridge, pan, rummy and cribbage. This is a massive step, as it also opens up the possibility of having large casinos that are legal, and have large payouts to the customers and tourists who used them.

Legal Poker in Alaska

The recent legalisation of poker rooms in Alaska is a progressive step towards a full and open casino industry in Alaska. With the additions of legal poker card rooms all over the state, people will have larger access to the ‘casinos’ across the state, increasing the levels of tourism into the state. As thousands of people visit Alaska every year, a flourishing card room industry will further help to increase the levels of tourism into the state.

However there are still rather strict guidelines to follow when starting up a Texas Holdem or poker card room. To begin with, there is the application fee, which is: $25,000, with an annual licence fee of $10,000, per table. This is a large expense that many people cannot afford to produce. However, for those who do and can afford this fee, the card rooms that they will set up will benefit the state in many ways. They will give the state an increase in jobs, as well as starting a new industry. Every state is always seeking more jobs, more industry and more entertainment which in turn obviously means more revenue.

This sentiment is shared with many of the Alaskan business owners. “Card games and poker are entertainment; and more entertainment is needed in the state, not just for locals but for gambling tourists who visit,” said Ethan Billings, owner of Marlintini's Lounge. With many business owners in Alaska pressing for more entertainment, which would help increase tourism, the Alaskan government seems to be changing their views on gambling. Poker Card Rooms are now allowed, although, as mentioned, they are required to follow strict guidelines.

Video Poker in Alaska

Within the past few years, video poker has become a larger issue for the Alaska government to deal with. A decent majority of the people want to play video poker; this will increase the demand for the ‘slot machine’ type machine that video poker uses. With this type of machine installed into the areas of Alaska, which are considered legal, it would increase the levels of tourism to those areas. As Alaska is relatively large, but there are few people who live there, people are prepared to travel to fulfil their pleasures; in this simple case, they want to go to a friendly environment and play video poker.

When it comes to Native Alaskan land, or Indian land, the laws are a little more lenient towards casinos. To simplify the current laws on native land, if the state of Alaska allows a certain form of gambling, then it is allowed on native land, regardless of many restrictions in place on US territory. Although there are other loopholes and additional guidelines, this is the current law on native land, which is a beneficial thing for many Alaskans. As it allows pull-tabs to be in a single place, a sort of casino, for many people to gather to spend a little money at the possibility of a larger reward.

Alaskan Casinos - Legal?

Casinos in Alaska are still in the main in the processes of becoming completely legal, and although many people are arrested for illegal gambling, the gambling industry is gaining speed in growth and acceptance within Alaska. Although it is still vigorously opposed, the local Alaskans also increasingly support it. Owing to this divide, and multiple other factors, the guidelines that must be followed by the establishments are incredibly strict. The current legislation states that an area that is allowed a casino, on US territory, are areas that have the minimum of 150,000 residents. The closest city in Alaska at this moment in time that has this level of population is Anchorage, so it is looked upon as a gem within the state for gamblers.

Thus, people will travel for many miles around to gain access to a variety of gambling based entertainment, as, in South West Alaska, there is little gambling entertainment. The increasing tourism is beneficial to the city of Anchorage and the surrounding area, with the predicted levels of tourism; it is possible that the legislation will be reduced. Which would increase the levels of jobs and industry in the state.

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