ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska plans to allow the online sale of raffle tickets for the first time to help nonprofit organizations faced with limited fundraising opportunities because of coronavirus restrictions.

The state Department of Revenue approved the temporary change over the summer allowing organizations holding charitable gaming permits to sell raffle tickets and draw winners online, Alaska Public Media reported Monday.

State Gaming Unit Director Katrina Mitchell said this is the only instance in which any online gaming has been permitted in Alaska.

The rule change is limited to raffles and is set to expire Nov. 15 with the scheduled end of the state’s COVID-19 emergency disaster declaration.

Alaska EXCEL, which provides education and career training to rural youth and young adults, has partnered with 10 other nonprofit groups for the second Great Alaska Duck Race Sept. 12.

The fundraiser involves dropping numbered rubber ducks into Anchorage’s Ship Creek, with the swiftest birds winning cash prizes for ticket holders.


Alaska EXCEL aviation instructor Jamie Klaes assists with marketing and said tickets last year were primarily sold at tables around the city.

The COVID-19 pandemic complicated the sales strategy this year, but the temporary rule gives the duck fundraiser a flying chance for success.

“We weren’t sure we were going to be able to hold this one because of the virus,” Klaes said. “But due to the fact that the gaming laws were changed to be online, and we can sell tickets online, we are holding it.”

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.