The concept of online sweepstakes casinos may initially seem confusing, but we will explain all the intricacies of these games.
Simply put, these gambling sites don’t accept direct real money deposits but still provide an opportunity to win real cash prizes.
It is very popular in the US since most countries do not allow traditional real-money online casinos, so sweepstakes sites use a legal loophole that allows them to operate fully within the constraints of the law and offer real money action.
The only difference is the few extra steps players must take when depositing and cashing out, so let’s dive deeper into how it actually works.
Sweepstakes Casino Basics
At first glance, sweepstakes casinos aren’t much different from traditional sites since they offer popular games like slots, roulette, blackjack, and much more.
However, on the surface, these are primarily social casinos. This means that when you sign up, you’ll receive a certain amount of virtual currency, coins, or tokens that you can play with rather than real money.
The caveat is these virtual coins are just numbers on the screen, as you can never cash out any of these “fun money” winnings; they’re used just to keep score.
It can still be a lot of fun, but it’s not gambling, as you aren’t risking anything, and you don’t stand to win anything tangible.
However, what differentiates sweepstakes casinos from purely social casinos is the fact they also have a real money component. It just takes a little while to wrap your head around it.
💸 Can You Win Real Money on an Online Sweepstakes Casino?
The short and sweet answer is – yes, you can. But to do so, it won’t be enough to just sign up and play with the virtual currency. You’ll need to make a “deposit.”
The way you deposit at sweepstakes casinos is by purchasing additional virtual coins or tokens that have no value on their own, but there is a twist.
For every real-money purchase, the casino will award you with sweeps coins with a monetary value.
You’ll be able to use them to play games, just like you would with real money, and try to win.
If you win and want to “cash out,” the casino will let you exchange your sweeps prizes for cash and send the money to your preferred payment method.
To better explain how sweepstakes casinos work, here’s a simple example:
- You purchase $500,000 “fun” coins at a casino for $50 – these coins have no monetary value and can only be used to play casino games for entertainment.
- As a reward for your purchase, the casino gives you $50 worth of sweeps coins. You can exchange these coins for real cash anytime – they are the extra reward for your purchase.
- You can also use sweeps coins to play games in the “sweeps coin” mode, where you risk your coins but also stand to win for real.
- At any point, you can take the amount of sweeps coins or tokens in your account, cash it in, and ask the operator to send you the money.
As you can see, the main difference here is that you are never making a traditional deposit.
Online sweepstakes casinos operate on a model that rewards players for their purchases, so all sweep tokens or coins you get are a reward or a present. You only purchase fun money with no monetary value and, thus, are not making gambling transactions from a legal standpoint.
USA Sweepstakes Casinos: Are They Legal?
When it comes to sweepstakes casinos, they are the most popular in the USA for obvious reasons. Except for a few states that have regulated online gambling, most Americans have no access to safe and legal online casinos.
These sweeps sites offer a great alternative that is actually legal within current state and federal laws.
It may sound strange, but these operators have discovered an interesting loophole in the system as the sweeps model has been around for decades, and it’s been used by many major companies outside of gambling to reward loyal customers or incentivize potential new ones.
They then took this model, tweaked it a bit, and created an online gambling platform where players never make actual deposits. Their purchases made purely for entertainment are rewarded by the company.
In the US, the main laws preventing online gambling are aimed at gambling transactions, i.e., preventing the money flow to and from gambling operators. Sweepstakes casinos aren’t gambling operators – they provide entertainment only, but they also choose to reward their customers with these extra tokens.
So, to answer the question, USA sweepstakes casinos are completely legal for the time being. Even though they tread a very fine line, these sites operate within the current parameters of the law.
Best Games at Sweepstakes Online Casinos
When it comes to gaming, players don’t have as many options as with standard online casinos. However, the variety of sweepstakes games is still quite solid.
The largest category across all sweep sites is online slots, and players can choose from a nice range of themes.
It is worth noting that you won’t find any of your real money favorites titles since these social casinos provide a different portfolio.
While these games are fun to play, don’t expect sweepstakes casinos to offer popular titles from the likes of NetEnt and Microgaming.
Beyond slots, you’ll also find a fair number of roulette and blackjack variations, video poker games, and some unique titles that you’d never encounter at traditional real money casinos. These operators enjoy a lot more freedom in this department.
If you happen to be a fan of live dealer games, you’ll be disappointed to hear none of the USA sweepstakes casinos offer these for the time being. It’s unlikely to change, as licensed gambling companies don’t tend to mix with sweeps operators.
Online Sweepstakes Casino Bonuses
Like traditional real money operators who offer signup bonuses, sweepstakes casinos also provide incentives for their players. These are structured a bit differently, though, to fit the business model of these sites.
Traditionally, a casino will give you a deposit match bonus or some free spins upon your deposit to add extra cash to your balance.
However, a sweeps coin casino doesn’t accept deposits in the traditional sense, so most online sweepstake casino bonuses are structured in a way where you get a special boost on your purchase.
For example, on your first purchase of fun coins worth $20 or more, the casino might give you $30 or $40 worth of sweeps coins. This is similar to a match bonus, just packaged differently.
That said, you’ll never have to deal with wagering requirements when using sweepstake casino bonuses. Since they don’t offer real money play, they can’t attach any wagering to the sweeps funds since doing so would be too risky and could put them outside of the legal boundaries.
Sweeps Casinos vs. Traditional & Purely Social Casinos
There are three main types of online casinos out there: traditional real money sites, social casinos designed for entertainment only, and sweepstakes casinos, falling between the two. So, what are the main differences and similarities?
Sweepstakes vs. Traditional Online Casinos
The main difference between these two types of casinos is that traditional operators accept direct deposits, allow you to play with your funds, and withdraw at will. You’re always dealing with real money, and everything is perfectly clear.
With sweepstakes casinos, the “real money” segment is actually a gift from the operator, and it’s not real money in a traditional sense. These are more like vouchers that can be exchanged for real money, but there is always that extra step.
It’s also important to note that sweeps casinos don’t fall under the same scrutiny as real money operators. Some of them are licensed by the likes of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), but their games aren’t checked as often, and they don’t have to meet the same standards as traditional sites.
Social vs. Sweepstakes Casinos
Social and sweepstakes online casinos are very similar, as you’ll find many same games, options, and features across both.
In fact, sweepstakes sites are social casinos, as you can use these platforms to play only for fun and don’t ever have to spend a dime if you don’t want to.
The main difference is that sweep coin casinos allow you to play for real cash prizes, while purely social sites don’t.
🎰 The Best US Sweepstakes Casinos
Now that you fully understand how sweepstakes games and casinos work, perhaps you feel anxious to jump into the action and try your luck. If that’s the case, these are our top picks for sweepstakes casino platforms available to US players.
Chumba Casino is one of the best-known and most popular sweepstakes online casinos catering to players from the United States. You can purchase Gold Coins on the site, and, as a reward, the site will give you Sweeps Coins for every real money purchase.
Chumba Casino features a colorful library of video slots for you to enjoy, whether you want to play for fun or for real money. If you prefer table games, options such as electronic blackjack and roulette are readily available.
LuckyLand Slots is a sweeps site catering only to players from the United States. All players are welcome except for those residing in the state of Washington.
As the name suggests, this operator is all about slots, and you’ll find a few dozen games to try your luck with. All Gold Coin purchases are rewarded with Sweeps Coins, which can be exchanged for real money at any point.
The website is completely legal in the United States, and in addition to a nice gaming library, LuckyLand Casino offers around-the-clock customer support and fast and easy prize redemption.
B Spot Casino
B Spot Casino offers a solid number of video slots, another great option for those looking for legal online casino options in the US. The site is legal in 22 US states as it operates on a different model and is not a sweepstakes casino.
Instead, this is an online racing casino. The operator is licensed to facilitate horse race wagering and has found an ingenious way to use this license to offer casino gambling as well.
Slot results are determined by the outcome of your horse race wagers. The technicalities of this system are somewhat complicated, but it suffices to say that it is legal in 22 US states and completely fair, so there is nothing to worry about. The full list of legal states is available on the site.
Funzpoints is another sweepstakes casino that uses the same approach as Chumba and LuckyLand slots. Players can play for fun or real money, using casino credits awarded when they make real purchases of Funzpoints play money.
The casino features a small but interesting gaming library consisting primarily of video slots. Players can look forward to a signup bonus, occasional promotions, and daily jackpots to boost their winning chances.
Unlike the rest of the sites on this list, BetRivers.NET is a purely social casino. There is no sweeps coins option here, and you can only play for fun.
BetRivers is a pretty big name in the US online casino market, and it has gaming licenses in several US states, offering casino games and sports betting. Because of this, the free version of the site only provides a fun play option without any real money opportunities.
While you can’t play for real money here, BetRivers.NET is a great place to try all sorts of slots offered on real money casinos powered by big-name studios like NetEnt, IGT, Pragmatic Play, and more.
Conclusion – Try Sweepstakes Casino and Games
It can be a lot of fun, and since you can play these games for free, there is no risk involved.
That said, you can check our US online casino page if you're looking for real money games.