Why we have charitable gaming in Alaska

(and prohibit casinos and card rooms)

Legislative History of Alaskan Charitable Gaming

The state of Alaska’s charitable gaming laws evolved in the early 1960s. The State of Alaska’s website overviews the history in detail.

Municipalities and qualified nonprofit organizations are eligible to conduct gaming activities as set out in the Alaska Gaming Reform Act. The purpose of these activities is to derive public benefit in the form of money for these entities.

Who qualifies as a charitable organization?

Qualified organizations include: civic or service organizations; religious, charitable, fraternal, veterans, labor, political, or educational organizations; police or fire departments and companies; dog mushers’ associations, outboard motor associations, and fishing derby and nonprofit trade associations. Gaming activities include primarily the sale of pull-tabs, bingo and raffles.

The Charitable Gaming Program issues permits and licenses to conduct gaming activities, collects fees and taxes, conducts audits, investigates complaints, and provides educational outreach to municipalities and qualified organizations.

Permits are issued annually with fees ranging from $20 to $100. Licenses are issued annually with fees ranging from $500 to $2,500. A 3% tax on pull-tabs sold by distributors is collected on a monthly basis. A 1% fee on net proceeds is collected annually from permittees if their gross receipts exceed $20,000.


Monthly, quarterly and annual returns are filed by permittees and licensees conducting gaming depending on the amount of gross receipts and the type of permit/license. Manufacturers and distributors file monthly reports. Operators must file monthly reports to permittees. Permittees file detailed quarterly and annual detailed reports to the State of Alaska.

Proven Results

Charitable Gaming raised Over 46 million dollars in 2022.

How much Alaska Earns from Charitable Gaming

Disposition of Revenue: The Department of Revenue’s Tax Division deposits permit and license fees, pull-tab taxes, and net proceeds fees into the General Fund.



The Alaska Legislature legalized gaming and gave oversight for all gaming activities to the Department of Revenue.


Under administrative order, gaming functions transferred to the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.


The department authorized pull-tabs by regulation.


The Legislature legalized operators, authorized pull-tabs, and increased prize limits.


Under administrative order, gaming functions transferred back to the Department of Revenue and organized as a separate gaming program.

 House Bill 168 significantly changed various aspects of the statutes governing charitable gaming in Alaska. Third-party vendors were brought under statutory control, which allows permittees to contract with them directly to sell pull-tabs and the department was authorized to issue Multiple-Beneficiary Permits (MBP). MBPs enable two to six permittees to conduct gaming activities jointly. Minimum payments increased from 15% to 30% of adjusted gross income for pull-tab games and require a minimum of 10% of adjusted gross income for all other activities.


The Legislature legalized cruise ship gambling activities in Alaska waters during the 1995 season. The gaming statutes required that cruise ships pay a fee to game in Alaska, and this generated more than $500,000 in revenue during the 1995 season. This law expired after 1995.


 The Legislature authorized three new gaming activities – the “Sled Dog Race Classic,” “Deep Freeze Classic, and “Snow Machine Classic.” The Legislature also created the “McGrath Kuskokwim River Ice Classic,” and “Creamer’s Field Goose Classic.” The Legislature prohibited the donation of net proceeds from pull-tabs and bingo activities to registered lobbyists and certain political organizations.


The Legislature made a change relating to games of chance and contests of skill to allow the department to issue permits for bull moose derbies. It also expanded the definition of “ice classic” to include the “Snow Town Ice Classic.” The change was made through HB 268 (CH 22 SLA 14).

Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act

“The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) was a new approach by Congress to federal Indian policy. ANCSA extinguished aboriginal land title in Alaska. It divided the state into twelve distinct regions and mandated the creation of twelve private, for-profit Alaska Native regional corporations and over 200 private, for-profit Alaska Native village corporations. ANCSA also mandated that both regional and village corporations be owned by enrolled Alaska Native shareholders. Unlike in the lower-48 states where the reservation system was the norm, ANCSA departed significantly – it was not based on the reservation system, tribal sovereignty within a reservation, or a government-to-government relationship between a tribe and the federal government. Instead, ANCSA’s foundation was in Alaska Native corporate ownership.

Through ANCSA, the federal government transferred 44 million acres – land to be held in corporate ownership by Alaska Native shareholders – to Alaska Native regional and village corporations. The federal government also compensated the newly formed Alaska Native corporations a total of $962.5 million for land lost in the settlement agreement.

ANCSA had expansive effects, reaching far beyond Alaska Native people. The passage of ANCSA allowed for federal lease sales to move forward across Alaska, with proceeds going to the federal government. Oil and gas exploration on the North Slope of Alaska and the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System created thousands of jobs and pumped revenues into the state’s coffers—eventually leading to the creation of the Alaska Permanent Fund. Since the passage of ANCSA, various industries have been strengthened in Alaska, creating jobs in both the private and public sectors. By creating Alaska Native-owned, for-profit corporations, ANCSA also brought additional economic diversity to the state that has benefited, either directly or indirectly, all Alaskans.” 

[Excerpt from ANCSA Regional Association’s website https://ancsaregional.com/about-ancsa/]

Why Alaska doesn’t allow casinos

Award-winning journalist Craig Medred publishes thoughtful articles covering the gamut of Alaskan-centric policy debates and issues. In 2016 Medred overviewed “Indian” gaming, highlighting why Alaska doesn’t have casinos as seen on reservations in the Lower 48.
Here’s an excerpt from his commentary which warns of impending gambling expansion if Alaskans don’t block such momentum:

“Outside, Indian casinos have proven among the biggest of those economic engines. But casino development in Alaska was long blocked by the lack of “Indian country” on which to build. That changed when Gov. Bill Walker decided to end state efforts to block the Secretary of the Interior from taking Native lands into trust.

Indian Country is coming soon to Alaska and with it the opportunity for casino development somewhere.”

Craig Medred

August 25, 2016 , CraigMedred.news

Indian Law Attorney Don Mitchell’s overview

Noted Indian Law attorney and columnist Don Mitchell has researched, written about, and actually worked in policy-making government agencies regulating Indian gaming and gambling.
In an October 2019 opinion editorial, Mitchell addresses the evolution of casino expansion efforts in Alaska. Here is an excerpt of his overview:

“…in 1988, Congress enacted the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The act divided gambling into three classes. Bingo, the sale of pull-tab cards and certain card games are Class II. Most other forms of gambling are Class III.


The act also created a National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), whose chairman was authorized to approve gaming ordinances that allow an “Indian tribe” to operate a Class II or Class III gambling facility on the tribe’s “Indian lands.” “

“Although Class II forms of gambling are principally limited to bingo and the sale of pull-tab cards, in response to pressure from Indian tribes in the coterminous states in 2002 the NIGC changed its regulations to allow video gaming machines whose software has been programmed to play bingo (rather than poker or to mimic a spinning reel slot machine) to be a Class II form of gambling. As a consequence, there now are casinos on Indian reservations whose gaming floors are full to bursting with beeping and blinking Class II machines.”


Don Mitchell

October 15, 2019, Anchorage Daily News

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Alaska Charitable Gaming Association


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