Are Sweepstakes Casinos Legal and Legit?

Sweepstakes Casinos offer an exciting playing experience that resembles real-money casinos but are they legal? You might be surprised to learn that Sweeps Casinos operate under a specific set of laws that are completely separate from traditional gambling.
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Sweeps casinos and social casinos are a new and exciting way to play casino style games online in the United States and Canada. They are fun, free to play and, best of all, they are totally legal in almost every single US state. 

Compare that to traditional real money casinos, which are still only legal in six states (Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia) for now, and you can see why sweeps sites have taken off in such a big way. 

Sweepstakes casinos operate under a specific set of laws, and this page is your guide to understanding them. Ever wondered how sweepstakes casinos actually work from a legal perspective, and why they are so widely available? We’ve got the answers right here. 

What is a Sweepstakes Casino?

Sweepstakes casinos are online gaming platforms that let you play casino style games for free. 

The games at sweeps casinos can normally be played using one of two types of virtual token, often called Gold Coins and Sweeps Coins, which you receive for free when you sign up along with regular free top ups. You can also purchase additional Gold Coin offers if you run out of your free supply. 

Playing with Gold Coins is just like playing for play money. You can’t withdraw your coins, or redeem them for any prizes. They have no function outside of the world of the sweeps casino. 

Sweeps Coins also can’t be withdrawn, but can be redeemed for cash prizes. 

You can check out our guide to How Sweeps Coins and Gold Coins Work for Betting [link] for all the details on how coins work.  

Sweepstakes Casinos vs Social Casinos

The distinction can be a little confusing, because the terms “sweepstakes casino” and “social casino” are often used interchangeably. 

To get into the weeds a little more, when we talk about “social casinos” we are normally referring to online gaming platforms that let you play casino-style games for free online, and interact with other players as part of the social community. 

“Sweepstakes casinos” covers all of the above too, while also including the possibility of redeeming coins for cash and other prizes. 

Playing with Gold Coins is more associated with social casinos, while Sweeps Coins are connected with sweepstakes casinos – even though they often both exist on the same platform. 

Why Are Sweepstakes Casino Legal?

Sweepstakes casinos operate under a specific set of laws in the US and Canada, totally distinct from real money gambling laws. For this reason, sweeps casinos and social casinos don’t require a real money gambling license and they are free to operate in states that don’t have legal online gambling.

At a sweepstakes casino, you never gamble for real money and you can’t “deposit” money into your account. The virtual tokens you use (either Gold Coins or Sweeps Coins) are provided for free, and have no inherent value. 

You can however purchase additional Gold Coins if you choose, which is how social and sweeps sites make their money. 

Similarly, you can never “withdraw” money from a sweepstakes casino, since the coins are worthless. In the case of Sweeps Coins however, you can redeem them for cash prizes. 

From a legal perspective, the games at sweeps sites are not considered a form of gambling. Instead, they are considered a type of sweepstakes contest. All kinds of commercial promotions and giveaways operate under exactly the same laws, as a way for companies to promote and sell their products. 

Where Are Sweepstakes Casinos Legal?

Sweepstakes casinos are very widely available in North America. 

You can find sweeps sites in every single state in the US, with the sole exception of Washington – which has specific state laws that make it difficult for sweepstakes casinos to operate. 

Sweeps sites are also available in Canada, with the exception of Quebec. 

Sweepstakes casinos have been steadily growing for a number of years now, operating legally and smoothly all over North America. Nevertheless, the legal situation can always change on a state by state basis. For this reason, we strongly recommend checking your local state laws to understand exactly what is legal and legit in your state.

Sweepstakes Casinos vs Real Money Casinos

As we’ve covered, from a legal perspective sweepstakes casinos are totally different from traditional real money casinos. 

That said, the experience of playing on a sweeps site can feel very similar to a real money casino. The types of games on the menu are generally similar, with sweeps versions of slots, roulette, blackjack and many more – often designed by the exact same software providers used by real money casinos. 

For this reason, sweeps sites make for an excellent alternative in locations where real money online gambling is not legal. 

But social and sweeps casinos also fulfill a different role to real money casinos. 

For plenty of people, the ability to redeem cash prizes is beside the point. Social casinos are all about connecting with other members of the community, sharing experiences and enjoying the games – all of which you can do totally free. 

Author: Ciaran Breslin
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