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Alaska may consider expanding its gambling to cover budget shortfalls

The regular legislative session in Alaska ended with a few still unanswered questions. This led to the need for a special session that is currently underway but looks like the extra time is not going to be enough either. As the state tries to calculate its budget, a second special session will be necessary, and Governor Mike Dunleavy plans to ask lawmakers to consider a range of options to offset income losses, including the ability to authorize new gambling options in the state.

Alaska may include sports gambling

Alaska is one of the few states in the US that has repeatedly resisted attempts to introduce expanded gambling. But shaking up the damage caused by COVID-19, which may soon change. As with other states, Alaska recognizes that sports gambling and other forms of gambling can provide significant benefits to cover income losses. However, any efforts to provide new gambling alternatives will not be enthusiastically received by many legislators.

In May, Governor Dunleavy convened a 20 special legislative session, but still has not produced any concrete results. The regular session ended the day before with no clear direction on how to balance the state budget, and the first extraordinary session is not any closer to being settled. A second session will likely be needed and the governor suggested that extended gambling could be introduced to the table but did not explain what and how it would be offered. There are a few tribal casinos in the state, but they are limited to what they can offer as their land does not meet the full criteria set by the Indian Bureau of the Department of the Interior.

Long way to go when time is up

According to Must Read Alaska, the state still has no operational, capital or mental health budget approval and a special session ends in a week. If something can't happen by June, the government may be forced into a temporary shutdown and some government workers may be left without jobs. While expanding gambling may be the fastest route to new income, and some states have been able to move from legislation to enactment in a matter of months, there is already resistance to the idea and an indication that a long process will be required. State Revenue Commissioner Lucinda Mahoney wants to see the figures before supporting sports gambling in the state, meaning long - and costly - research may be needed before any progress can be made.

Alaska's Revenue Department has already tried to get some idea of the revenue potential. . Last year, he said legalized card games could bring in $ 2.3 million, and even $ 1.2 billion, if the state imposes a sales and use tax, as has happened in other states. Some lawmakers believe there is not enough money to support the Alaska Permanent Fund, essentially a constitutionally guaranteed basic income strategy for state residents, with a potential gap of more than a billion dollars. Despite the urgency of the situation, if a second legislative session is needed, it will not be convened until August this year.


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