America is slowly waking up to online sports betting. More and more states are enacting legislation to permit gamblers to wager on the big games from the comfort of their homes. However, online sports betting in Alaska is lagging some way behind the rest of the country.

At present, the northernmost state has strict regulations affecting all gambling. Alaska is one of just five states that does not even run a state lottery. Sportsbooks, casinos, and similar betting activities are almost impossible. The few available alternatives are either very small-scale or involve risky offshore gambling platforms. Here’s a look at the current state of play in Frontier State.

Online sports betting is not yet legal in Alaska. Despite a proposal from state governor Mike Dunleavy back in 2020, there is no legal framework for online gambling in Alaska. As a result, sportsbooks and casinos cannot get licenses to operate, whether online or on retail premises. Moreover, owning a computer or mobile device with the code to operate a gambling game is also an offense.

This forces would-be gamblers to look for other ways to get their bet on. There are no restrictions against using offshore sportsbooks. However, there are risks associated with this. Because offshore companies are not bound by any local legislation, customers have little recourse in the event of a dispute. The other online choice is to look at crypto betting platforms. The very nature of cryptocurrency scoffs at the idea of legislation tied to geographical location, and these sites are unlikely to know or care if customers are in Anchorage, Arkhangelsk, or Addis Ababa. Again, though, be cautious. In a deregulated market, it’s important to know exactly who you are playing with, and how they will ensure fair dealing.

Other options include so-called casino cruises, which sail out into Canadian or international waters before opening their gambling facilities. These cruises mostly cater to devotees of the slots and gaming tables, but can also provide AK sportsbook bets. Locally-regulated gambling is extremely limited. There are no regulations to prevent social betting. Therefore, if you and your buddies want to set up a pool about the weekend football results, you are good to go. However, that makes for a fairly complicated way of setting up a limited gambling experience. In addition, it is possible to wager on a handful of major dog mushing races. These events form a big part of the local sporting landscape. Again, though, this is not going to scratch the gambling itch for many enthusiasts.

The other legitimate way of gambling in Alaska is to visit a tribal gaming room. These cannot offer a full range of casino games. Instead, they have bingo and pull-tab games, the latter being a type of scratch card. The odds are against enjoying a glittering night of gambling here.

Alaska does not have a lot of pro sports, although its college scene is lively. It is difficult to attract a franchise to the state due to the small, dispersed population and the huge distances for road games. However, the absence of big-name local teams to root for does not prevent sports fans from enjoying their favorite games.

  • Hockey (NHL). Given Alaska’s icy climate, hockey would seem to be a natural fit for the local sporting community. However, a combination of small populations and long journey times to the game’s heartland means there is no NHL franchise here. Instead, locals enjoy one of college hockey’s major rivalries between the Nanooks and the Seawolves. In addition, major NHL franchises like the Red Wings, the Avalanche, and, more recently, the Golden Knights, enjoy support.
  • Basketball (NBA). One of the best things about basketball is that you can play indoors. With Alaska’s climate, that’s a big deal. So far, there’s no sign of the NBA heading this far north, but fans in the Frontier State enjoy following the big league. The LA Lakers are historically the most popular team in Alaska, possibly a throwback to the glory days of Shaq and Kobe.
  • Baseball (MLB). The World Series and Major League Baseball are big draws, but there is also a unique local event played in Fairbanks on every summer solstice. The Midnight Sun Game has 100+ years of tradition. The first pitch is thrown at 10:30 pm, and the midnight sun illuminates the whole nine innings with no artificial lighting involved. Back in the pro game, Alaskans tend to route for Seattle Mariners, perhaps because it is as far north-east as the MLB reaches in the mainland USA.
  • Outdoor Hockey (OHL). Pond, or outdoor hockey, is a big recreational sport in Alaska. Since the state gets plenty of natural ice, it makes sense to use it, right? During the Covid pandemic, many local hockey clubs shifted their programs to open-air ice to comply with safety regulations. While there are organized outdoor leagues, these tend to be low-level affairs and do not generate much betting interest. The OHL normally refers to the Ontario Hockey League, one of Canada’s three major junior leagues.

The current situation around Alaska’s online sports betting

Sports betting and AK sports betting apps are illegal in the state, which has a reputation for having a strict gaming policy. Currently, the Frontier State is one of just five in the U.S. that does not even run a state lottery. Against that backdrop, it isn’t surprising that there are no legal casinos, cardrooms, or sportsbooks in Anchorage or Fairbanks.

In addition, betting on horse racing is also prohibited. The only sporting events where wagers can be taken are the three classic dogsled races on the calendar each year. Beyond that, would-be gamblers rely on bingo games and pull-tab cards in tribal venues. It does not offer very much to an increasingly sophisticated betting audience.

The only bright spot is fantasy sports. FanDuel and DraftKings, the two pioneering sites in this market, offer the DFS games in Alaska and have the blessing of the authorities. The law class DFS as a game of skill, not chance, so it is on offer in Alaska. And that means you can play for cold, hard cash. However, the sportsbooks and casinos that accompany DFS sites elsewhere in the countries are not available in the far north.

Looking ahead, the end of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act means the end of any U.S.-wide ban on gambling. Now, individual states can make their own rules and permit as much betting as they wish.

Thus far, Alaska has taken no significant action. Governor Dunleavy’s proposals from 2020 made no progress toward the statute books. Until that changes, Alaskans make the best of their limited options or take a chance on offshore platforms that will accept customers from the Frontier State.

Can you bet on Daily fantasy sports in Alaska?

Daily Fantasy Sports played a big role in legalizing sports betting in the USA. Two of the leading companies in this market won a landmark intellectual property case against college athletes. That verdict indirectly exposed the loophole that led to the SCOTUS striking down the longstanding PAPSA legislation that prevented sports betting across the country.

That 2018 ruling from the Supreme Court allows each state to formulate its own rules on sports betting, something that Alaska has not yet explored in detail. However, Juneau does permit Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), and both FanDuel and DraftKings are active in the state.

DFS grew out of the fantasy sports competitions that became popular in the early 21st century. These games invited players to build their fantasy teams, abiding by a strict budget cap as they ‘buy’ stars from the major leagues. Then, as the real-life season unfolds, the performances of those athletes in the pro game generate points for fantasy teams, just as winning games pushes real-life franchises toward the championship.

Those competitions were a lot of fun and could be a handy way of earning a few bucks off your sporting knowledge. However, they took a long time to play out: an entire regular season, at least, and often a full play-off campaign as well. DFS took that idea and crunched it down into bite-sized chunks. Instead of tracking the entire NFL season, for example, DFS games would run over a single game weekend. The principle was the same: pick out individuals who will shine. Now, though, the timeframe was shorter. In sports like baseball or hockey, with games almost every night, it was possible to play for money each day.

The streamlined format was a hit. The companies behind it became big players in the sports gaming scene. And they grew. Today, DraftKings and FanDuel are a major part of the American sporting landscape with high-profile sponsor and partnership deals underpinning their status. The companies also made a successful move into sports betting, both online and in retail. So far, though, their offer in Alaska is limited to DFS alone.

What online sports betting bonuses might be available to players in Alaska?

While sports betting remains illegal in Alaska, promos and bonuses might seem to be irrelevant. However, bettors using offshore services will encounter offers designed to attract new customers. In addition, of course, when the state has its own licensed platforms, we expect them to have similar sign-up deals to celebrate going online.

  • Sign-up bonus. Almost any worthwhile gambling platform will have an eye-catching sign-up bonus to encourage new customers to get into the game. After all, what better inducement for a rookie than a chance to try out for free (or at least, at minimal cost). These promos can take many forms, but the most common include a deposit match or a risk-free wager on your first bet. When accepting a sign-up bet, it’s important to be sure that you understand all the terms and conditions. If you have to make a qualifying bet, check that you know about the minimum odds requirements. Also, check out any additional wagering requirements before you can withdraw your winnings.
  • No deposit bonus. These are more often used by online casinos, which will give new customers a few free spins on the slots simply for registering an account. They are relatively rare on sportsbooks, but occasionally a site will offer a small free bet even before a newcomer makes a deposit. The attraction is obvious: zero expenditure on your part. The catch, usually, is a hefty wagering requirement. Often, winning the no deposit bonus bet means gamblers need to follow up with a solid winning streak before they can withdraw the funds.
  • Matched deposit bonus. This is a popular bonus within a sign-up offer. It is also sometimes available as a reward for returning customers. When it forms part of a sign-up offer, you will usually get 100% of your first deposit matched with free bets. Depending on your betting strategy, you might try using the free bets to insure your fully-funded bets and guarantee a win regardless of the result. Or you might go for broke and lump the free bets in with your cash on your chosen market, hoping to win more. Matched deposits for existing customers are sometimes less generous: you may see 50% of your funds returned as a free bet and there is often a need for a qualifying bet to trigger the bonus. It’s also important to check for wagering requirements and factor those into your strategy.
  • Free bets. A free bet is exactly what it sounds like: a chance to place a bet without spending any of your own money. Therefore, you almost literally cannot lose. There are a few ways to get them. Many promotions include free bets for new customers. In addition, gambling platforms often have VIP clubs of some sort, where placing a certain number of bets each week will trigger a freebie. And there are ‘bet-and-get’ promotions, were making a specific wager that will unlock another, free one on a similar market. For example, you might be invited to place a parlay bet and get a second free parlay as a reward. Fans of matched betting like to use free bets to generate guaranteed wins.
  • Risk-free bets. These are offered as a ‘second chance’ if you place a bet and lose. As part of a sign-up offer, the risk-free bet usually follows your first bet on any market. If your bet wins, you collect your money and carry on. If it loses, you get a free bet to the value of your initial stake and can try again. Very occasionally, a risk-free bet refunds your stake in cash. However, the term ‘risk-free’ should be treated with caution. While it is true that you will get something back regardless of the result, a free bet cannot be withdrawn as cash. Therefore, you need to pick a winner with that free bet to recover your original loss. Lose a second bet, and you’re done.

It doesn’t much matter whether you are planning to use an offshore gambling platform or wait until Alaska begins to license its own. Either way, you will need to deposit funds before you can bet. Hopefully, you will also need to withdraw your winnings somewhere down the stretch. Today’s gaming sites offer several ways of doing this. Here are some of the most commonplace.

  • VISA. The good news? You likely already have a VISA debit or credit card, so using it with a gambling platform should be straightforward. The bad news? Many debit and credit card issuers have rules that prevent payments from gambling services from returning to the card. Thus, the most popular card in the world can be used to deposit at online sportsbooks, but oftentimes customers need a different method to withdraw funds.
  • Neteller. This e-wallet service ceased trading in the USA in 2019. Neteller currently lists the United States among its non-serviced countries. However, fans can find a simple alternative. In 2015, Skrill took over Neteller. It continues to operate a similar range of services for U.S. customers and, on many betting sites, it is a popular means of processing payments.
  • Play+. The creators of this pre-paid card designed it with gambling in mind. They wanted Play+ to remove the hassle of using traditional bank cards to access betting sites. The result is a one-stop shop where customers can put funds on their Play+ card and then transfer to and from their favorite gambling platforms. It’s convenient, and when you withdraw funds you can spend them directly from your card.
  • PayNearMe. With PayNearMe, cash is still king. It might seem counter-intuitive in the digital age, but there remains a huge market for cash transactions. Unfortunately, online businesses struggled with this until PayNearMe created an intermediary service. Now you can create an account, top up with cash at your local convenience store, then use that PayNearMe account to fund your internet purchases. And that, increasingly, includes deposits on betting sites.
  • Discover Card. Backed by Sears, the Discover Card appeared in 1985. It quickly became a serious rival to established payment cards, attracting customers with the promise of no annual fee and cashback on payments and purchases. That makes Discover something of a game-changer in its field. Unfortunately, however, the difficulties that other credit and debit cards face when withdrawing funds from online betting sites also apply here.
  • American Express. Like VISA, American Express has difficulties processing withdrawals from gambling providers. Unlike VISA, the world’s oldest card provider is not widely available for internet transactions. This is generally blamed on the relatively high transaction fees that Amex levies on merchants. When it started out in 1850, it could dominate the market. Now, 170 years later, this isn’t so easy.

The one sport in Alaska where you can legally bet on the outcome is dog sledding. A dog race and a horse race might, in theory, look like pretty much the same thing. However, local legislation sees it very differently. Alaska has no horse racing tracks. Nor does it have greyhound racing venues. There are a few reasons for this, both practical and cultural. The most obvious issues are to do with the climate. Cold weather does not encourage people to come out and watch animals or people galloping around. Moreover, the low population density limits the potential audience for a racetrack anywhere in the state (although with a population of 200,000, Anchorage probably has the population to sustain one).

Then there is the cultural issue. Dog sledding has its roots in a longstanding Alaskan tradition where these sleds were the key means of transport across the snowy wastes. These were primarily working dogs and occasional races were a form of entertainment and harmless competition between owners. Racing horses and greyhounds are bred and trained purely to compete, which many believe is cruel. Consequently, the three classic dog sled races are a much-loved part of Alaska’s cultural calendar; horse racing has no role here. On top of that, the state’s current gambling laws do not allow betting on horse racing. Even meetings held out of the state are unavailable via the usual, legitimate means. Like any other form of sports betting, a punt on the ponies is only possible via offshore gambling platforms.

The history of online sports betting in Alaska

Given the lack of any legal online sports betting in Alaska, readers might be forgiven for assuming this will be a short section. However, there are a few details worthy of consideration. When the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867, nobody thought about imposing any rules on gambling. For almost 100 years, wagering in the Frontier State was entirely unregulated. That free-for-all made it unsafe for many, with disputes potentially settled at gunpoint.

Things changed in 1960 when Alaska finally became a U.S. state and got its own gambling laws. Basically, that permitted bingo and nothing else. Pull-tab games got the go-ahead in 1984, followed by charitable raffles and the like in 1993. Dog-sled races were the most recent addition in 1996, although floating casinos had a brief spell in the game in 1995. When the SCOTUS struck down PASPA in 2018, it opened the door for states to pass their own gambling legislation. There was no longer a federal ban on sports betting and states are increasingly keen to permit gambling. Within a couple of years, Alaska had proposals to follow suit, but these never made it into law.

The future of online sports betting in AK

One thing is abundantly clear. When Alaska liberalizes its gambling laws, online betting will be at the forefront. Don’t forget, this is the largest state by land area, yet it has a tiny population of less than 750,000. It’s the equivalent of Seattle’s population, spread out across an area bigger than Texas. Therefore, it’s not an easy market for gambling companies to run a profitable brick-and-mortar location. To make meaningful profits, operators will have to look online.

However, that small population is also a reason why the leading online betting platforms are not rushing to lobby the state authorities in Juneau. Put simply, there are far bigger markets out there and nobody will hurry to get into Alaska while California is still up for grabs. The good news is that the authorities are already showing signs of understanding why legalized gambling could be a good thing for Alaska. Governor Dunleavy’s 2020 proposals were a genuine watershed in a state that does not, at present, even have a lottery. They suggest that there is a genuine desire to enable safe, fair gambling platforms to operate and contribute to the Alaskan economy. Money talks, and ultimately that financial interest is likely to persuade the authorities to loosen their icy grip on gambling in Alaska.


Will online sports betting ever become legal in Alaska?

Yes, most likely at some point.. The state's small, dispersed population makes it a difficult market for retail betting. Online platforms are the only realistic way to reach potential bettors in AK. As local government becomes more interested in potential tax revenues from gambling, we expect to see further attempts to legalize wagering.

Does Alaska have any retail locations for sports betting?

No, Alaska does not have any retail locations for sports betting. In addition to the statuary limitations on gambling in the state, there is a geographical issue.

How old do I need to be to bet on sports online in AK?

For the moment, this is a moot point since Alaska has no sports betting, online or otherwise. However, when the law changes, it seems likely that AK will adopt 21 as the standard minimum age for gambling, in line which much of the USA.

Is it illegal to use offshore betting sites in AK?

No, it's not illegal, but it isn't advisable either. Most offshore platforms are safe and hold licenses from other jurisdictions. However, those licenses have no weight in Alaska. That means there is limited legal recourse in the event of a dispute. Moreover, with no local licenses, there is a gap in the market that may be exploited by fraudulent or unfair gambling platforms. Caveat emptor is very much the watchword.