For a state that does not even offer a lottery, legalized sports betting is viewed as a reach. However, that did not stop an Alaska state lawmaker from introducing legislation to make a change.
State Representative Adam Wool proposed House Bill 385 towards the end of February. His goal is to bring legal sports betting to Alaska through the 2022 legislative session. This is not the first effort to amend the state’s gaming laws. However, the timing may finally be right.
More and more conservative state lawmakers across the country are rethinking their stance on legalizing sports betting. To date, more than 30 states plus the District of Columbia offer some form of legal betting on sports.
It is rather obvious that Alaska is way behind the times when it comes to legal gaming options. While this remains a huge factor in the legislative process, this latest effort could lay the groundwork for future success.
HB 385 would pave the way for legal online sports betting on both professional and college sporting events. The minimum age to place a bet in Alaska would be set at 21. Markets included in the bill are straight bets, multi-team parlays and prop bet options.
The new law would create up to 10 mobile sportsbook apps in the state. All sports betting revenue would be taxed at a rate of 12%. The initial license fee for a mobile operator would be $5,000.
The provisions of HB 385 are basic enough. The low licensing fee and tax rate would make Alaska appealing to major sportsbook operators such as FanDuel and DraftKings. Allowing wagers on college sports is another attractive feature of Rep. Wool’s proposal.
The absence of professional and even major college athletic teams in Alaska does dimmish any sense of urgency for state law makers still on the fence. The biggest in-state attraction for sports bettors would be pro teams in the Seattle market as well as hockey and football in Canada.
Since cities such as Denver and San Francisco have quite a few transplants residing in Alaska, those teams would add to the appeal. Otherwise, building support for the bill needs to be a grassroots effort.
More than a few interested parties in the legal US sports betting industry will keep a close eye on any further developments in The Last Frontier. If an ultra-conservative gaming state such as Alaska moves forward with legal sports betting, it would be a big deal.
At the present moment, it is hard to gauge the level of support HB 385 has among state lawmakers. However, one positive sign is Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy coming out in favor of expanded gaming options.
Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.
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