Alaska Marine Highway System Proposed for Onboard Slot Machines

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Posted on: January 30, 2024, 02:37h. 

Last updated on: January 31, 2024, 11:51h.

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The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) is erstwhile again being targeted for slot machines done authorities successful nan Juneau capital.

Alaska Marine Highway System slot machinesAn Alaska Marine Highway System ferry. Legislation successful Juneau seeks to spot Las Vegas-style slot machines aboard nan ferries to make caller taxation gross for nan authorities and amended money nan Marine Highway network. (Image: Alaska Marine Highway System)

Alaska Rep. Jesse Sumner (R-Wasilla) revenge House Bill 197 past year, but nan statute ne'er made it retired of nan House Transportation Committee. The legislation, which seeks to found a ineligible model to let travelers aboard nan state’s ferry boats to bet connected Las Vegas-style slot machines, is backmost for 2024.

Sumner reintroduced HB197 past week. The measurement is again being first considered by nan House Transportation Committee.

Sumner says nan taxation use from allowing slot machines onboard nan state’s Marine Highway System would make much-needed gross for nan authorities enterprise. The Republican cites authorities reports uncovering nan marine road strategy to beryllium operating astatine a nonaccomplishment each year.

The preamble of physics gaming connected AMHS ferries has nan imaginable to make further gross done fees, taxes, and a percent of gaming income, akin to land-based casinos, contributing to nan backing of maritime services,” Sumner said.

The lawmaker believes slot machines aboard nan ferries would pull caller visitors and foster location economical maturation done nan reinvestment of gaming-related revenue. He believes galore Alaskans would besides thrust nan ferries simply to gamble.

Fiscal Projections Questioned

The AMHS operates on nan south-central seashore of nan state, arsenic good arsenic nan eastbound Aleutian Islands and nan Inside Passage of Alaska and British Columbia. The ferries facilitate astir 350K passengers per twelvemonth and much than 100K vehicles.

The Marine Highway System spans 3,500 miles. The year-round cognition provides basal proscription to astir 35 coastal communities, galore of which are not accessible by road.

Sumner’s statute would let slot machines to beryllium turned connected erstwhile nan ferries sail 3 miles from land. He believes nan authorities could reap $20 cardinal a twelvemonth from ferry slot instrumentality taxes, a number he considers to beryllium conservative.

Opponents, however, opportunity Sumner’s measure arsenic written would only let slot machines connected a fewer routes, arsenic astir ships stay wrong 3 miles of nan shore. Those supportive of nan ferry slot machines opportunity a elemental solution would beryllium to reroute nan boats astatine slightest 3 miles from land.

Speaking pinch nan Alaska Beacon, Craig Tornga, nan marine head for nan AMHS, said nan only ferries that presently sail beyond 3 miles offshore are services betwixt Kodiak Island and nan mainland, Dutch Harbor crossed nan Gulf of Alaska, and immoderate spots wrong Prince William Sound. Tornga besides questioned whether nan aging ferries would beryllium capable to accommodate nan important electrical needs of slot machines.

Increasing ferry rates is thing not galore lawmakers aliases authorities officials want to do, arsenic fares are already pricey. For a nonstop thrust from Juneau to Sitka for 2 adults and a car, nan sailing value is $364. The aforesaid itinerary sans an automobile is $178.

State Gaming Law

The three-mile information is critical, arsenic Alaska’s existent rule prohibits casino gambling. However, Alaska defines its maritime boundary, sometimes called territorial waters, to screen 3 miles from nan shore.   

Allowing a ferry vessel to connection slot machines erstwhile disconnected nan Alaska seashore by astatine slightest 3 miles, Sumner says, would let nan gambling terminals to run without violating nan state’s Administrative Code.    

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