Social Betting and Sweepstakes Casinos Explained

Social Casinos offer an exciting new way for people to enjoy casino-style games without having to risk any money. While it’s possible to win cash prizes on social casinos the emphasis is on having a good time.
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Social and sweepstakes casinos are changing the game in the US and Canada. All around the country, including in states that don’t allow legal online gambling, people are happily playing fun and interactive casino-style games, all thanks to social casinos.

We’re explaining exactly how social casinos work, and what kind of games you can play, right here.

What is a Social Casino?

Social casinos are online platforms where you can play casino style games online for free. Although the games can feel very similar to those at traditional real money casinos, they are totally distinct from a legal perspective. 

While online gambling is still only legal in a handful of states (although that number is growing), you can access social casinos from almost anywhere in the US. 

The games at social casinos are played using virtual tokens, often called Gold Coins and Sweeps Coins. You can read more about how both of them work in our guide to How Sweeps Coins and Gold Coins Work for Betting.

Many social casinos are closely tied to social media sites, like Facebook or Twitter. Often you can sign up via your existing login credentials for those sites, and you’ll find a whole community of social gambling fans interacting on Facebook groups or other social media threads.

Plus, social and sweeps sites regularly host coin giveaways or other promos on their social platforms. 

The connection just makes sense: social casinos are all about having fun online with like minded players and sharing your Ws and Ls with the community, which fits perfectly with the spirit of social media platforms. 

Sweepstakes Casinos and Cash Prizes

The games at social casinos are all available to play totally free. In fact, you can’t “deposit” real money into your social account even if you wanted to. 

Depending on the site however, you may still be able to redeem cash prizes at social casinos, thanks to something called sweepstakes prizes. 

The terms “sweepstakes casinos” and “social casinos” are sometimes used interchangeably, but sweepstakes casinos can also refer exclusively to the gaming format that includes the ability to redeem cash prizes. 

We go in depth on how it all works here, but here are the Cliff Notes: 

The games at social casinos or sweepstakes casinos can typically be played using two types of free virtual token, normally called Gold Coins or Sweeps Coins. Playing with Gold Coins is just like playing with play money – they have no value or function outside of the games. With Sweeps Coins however, you can redeem additional coins you win for cash prizes and more.

Social Gambling Games Available

Social casinos have a wide range of games available, and the depth and variety is only growing. While not quite yet at the same level as the offerings at real money casinos, it feels like there is a lot more to come. 

The top social and sweeps sites – like Chumba Casino, Luckyland Slots and Pulsz – are steadily building gaming menus that number in the hundreds of titles. Even more excitingly, we’re now seeing social games from the top gaming software providers in the world, like NetEnt, Pragmatic Play, and Playtech. 

From the beginning, slots have been the most popular type of game at social casinos and they typically make up the bulk of the gaming menu. But you’ll also find social table games like blackjack, roulette, video poker and more. Not to mention classic special feature games, like Megaways and Progressive Jackpots.

From a purely gameplay perspective, it really feels like the gap is closing between the games at social casinos and traditional real money casino games.

Other Types of Social Gambling

In addition to social online casinos, other forms of social gaming are steadily growing in popularity, most notably social online poker and social sports betting. 

Global Poker offers a sweepstakes model of online poker, complete with their own versions of ring games, sit’n’go’s, multi table tournaments and more. 

Fluff is doing the same with sports betting, allowing users to place real life sports bets with virtual coins and redeem cash prizes. 

It’s About Entertainment

Ultimately, while the games themselves can feel very similar to those at real money casinos, the vibe is pretty different at social casinos. The experience is much more about having fun as part of the wider community, and not worrying about winning or losing money. 

Millions of people are playing at social casinos right now, connecting and building friendships online, all totally free. 

And, of course, for plenty of people the possibility of redeeming cash prizes is a big part of the appeal too. 

How Social Casinos Make Money

The main way that social casinos make money is through offering optional upgrades and offers which users can purchase if they choose. There is no obligation to spend money to play at social casinos, but you can unlock new features and gain additional coins if you do. 

The model could be described as “freemium”, meaning the basic version or entry point is available to everyone for free but there is also an option to pay for certain “premium” features. 

In-app Purchases (coins)

In-app purchases at social casino apps work in just the same way as any other apps, like buying an expansion pack in a video game or paying for access to exclusive news content. 

Normally, in-app purchases at social casinos are centered around purchasing additional coins. You can typically only buy Gold Coins via in-app purchases, and sometimes receive FREE Sweeps Coins.

There are two main reasons players might choose to purchase additional coins. 

People want extra Gold Coins in order to keep playing games once their daily free allocation has been used up, or to move up in stakes or participate in leaderboards. Remember, Gold Coins can’t be cashed in for prizes, so anyone deciding to purchase extra GCs can only use them to play games.

People want additional Sweeps Coins for the same reasons, but with the added benefit of potentially redeeming cash prizes if they win additional SCs. 

Sweeps Coins can’t actually be purchased directly due to the laws surrounding sweepstakes casinos. Instead, you’ll often receive FREE Sweeps Coins when you purchase additional Gold Coins, or via daily login bonuses, social media competitions or mail-in offers. 

It’s important to appreciate that even though some social casinos offer in-app purchases or the option of buying more coins, it is absolutely not a requirement to be able to play at social casinos. Furthermore, it should not be confused with depositing money into a casino account, the way real money casinos work. 

Social and sweeps casinos operate under a totally different model. The games are free for everyone, and any additional purchases are entirely optional. 

Social Casinos Are a Fun Option

Social casinos come with a lot of upsides. 

First and foremost, they are widely available, free to play and open to all adults. No need to worry about local gambling laws or trusting the site with your money, which is the case with traditional real money casinos. 

If you’re in one of the many parts of the country where real money online gambling isn’t legal, social casinos are a great alternative.

But social casinos are much more than just a backup option for online gambling. 

The experience is unique. Social casino players are often less invested in gambling or risk, and more interested in simply having fun, playing games and being part of the community. 

It makes sense that social sites have such close ties with existing social media platforms, since they basically feel like a cross between a casino and a social site. 

However you want to use social casinos, the social gambling ecosystem is flourishing in the US and Canada. It’s an exciting time to get involved. 

Author: Ciaran Breslin
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