Sweepstakes casinos allow players to play casino-style games in states where traditional online gambling isn’t legal. On top of that, players are not required to spend any money to enjoy online casino games but can win real money in the process.
For some people, the concept seems too good to be true, which bodes the question, are sweepstakes casinos legal in the US?
To answer that and to dispel any myths and the unknowns regarding the legality of sweepstakes casinos, we’ve made a brief but comprehensive guide that will tell you everything you need to know about the legal status of sweepstakes casinos and how they operate.
Are Sweeps Casinos Legal in the US?
Before we delve into the nitty gritty, we’d like to answer the burning question as plainly as possible — yes, online sweepstakes casinos are perfectly legal in the US.
Sweepstakes casinos operate under the sweepstakes model and existing sweepstakes laws rather than traditional gambling laws, like real money casinos do, for example.
Because of that, you won’t see sweepstakes casinos proudly displaying the fact they are licensed by various gambling commissions — but that doesn’t make them any less legal than any other legitimate gambling establishment.
The sweepstakes model allows players to play casino-style games and participate in contests without engaging in traditional gambling using real money. Instead of real cash, sweepstakes casinos operate using virtual currency — instead of real cash, you’ll get to wager gold coins and sweepstakes coins.
No Cash? No Problem!
The first thing I noticed when I joined a sweepstakes casino was how common the gold coins are. You can get them through bonuses, promotions, by playing games, you name it. And the best part? You can always get loads of gold coins without ever reaching for your wallet.
You can wager gold coins on your favorite games, and you can either lose them or win them if Lady Luck’s on your side. Personally, I always had enough gold coins to play casino games with and didn’t really have to worry about ever running out.
One thing that I really liked was the fact that sweepstakes casinos allow you to freely swap between free play and promotional play, so you can always plan your gaming session and either take things slow and have fun or up the ante and try to make a profit.
Now, sweepstakes coins are often much harder to snag. They’re still up for grabs through through bonuses and promotions, but of course, in much smaller quantities than gold coins.
As is the case with gold coins, you can use sweepstakes coins to play games, just make sure you spend them wisely.
How to Make and Spend Money at Sweepstakes Casinos
The main difference between gold coins and sweeps coins is that you can exchange sweepstakes coins for real cash prizes.
When you have enough sweepstakes coins in your casino account, you can redeem them for gift cards or real money. How much exactly can you get, you wonder? Well, that depends on the casino and on how lucky you are, of course — sweepstakes casinos have their own currency conversion rate.
In most cases, 1 Sweepstakes Coin is worth the same as $1, so 100 SC means you can walk away with a Benjamin in your pocket.
Now, pay attention — you cannot redeem gold coins for cash prizes. Additionally, you cannot exchange gold coins for sweeps coins. Only sweeps coins are redeemable for the goodies.
As far as purchases go, you should know that you can decide to purchase gold coins packages — you may get some extra coins as a reward for supporting the casino, including sweeps coins, VIP points, and access to new features.
Though, keep in mind that you cannot directly purchase sweeps coins and simply exchange real money for sweeps coins since that would kind of defy the whole principle of the sweepstakes model.
With that said, the currency you use to play casino games is just one of the differences between the two, and in order to distinguish themselves from real money online casinos, sweepstakes casinos need to conform to many other state requirements and restrictions.
What Are the Main State Requirements and Restrictions?
To qualify as a sweepstakes casino, social casino operators must provide players entry to sweepstakes with no purchase required. Legally, this is known as an alternate method of entry or AMOE for short.
For us, the players, this translates to sweepstakes casino bonuses and promotions.
The most common AMOE for sweepstakes casinos is the mail-in bonus, where you can request promotional entries (sweepstakes coins) through the mail. Of course, if you’ve ever visited a sweepstakes casino before, you know that’s just scratching the surface.
Sweepstakes casinos also offer sign up bonuses, daily login bonuses, social media contests, and a slew of other juicy bonuses you can nab for free.
Other Sweepstakes Casino Requirements You Should Know
In addition to all the free coins, sweepstakes casinos are required to provide all games free of charge. The fact that we use virtual currency to play games rather than real money and because we can always get coins for free is why social casinos can operate under the sweepstakes model.
But there’s more — sweepstakes casinos must abide by various state laws and policies. First things first, legitimate sweepstakes casinos should follow responsible gambling policies and prevent underage gambling. That’s why most sweepstakes casinos require you to be at least 18 or 21 before you’re allowed to register.
Similarly, the casino must offer full disclosure and be transparent about their operation — this includes stating the company name and the operator of the casino, having legal and privacy policies, and having available and legible terms and conditions — I know that players hate reading them, but terms and conditions are where all the relevant rules are.
On top of that, a sweepstakes casino must include all the information regarding its prize structure, which means the casino has to inform us, the players, about all the potential prizes we can win, the chance of it happening, virtual currency conversion rates, and much more.
So, the next time you wonder how are sweepstakes casino legal in the US, just remember all the painstaking requirements and the legal mumbo-jumbo sweepstakes casino operators are required to follow.
Who Regulates Sweeps Casinos?
On a federal level, sweepstakes casinos are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). FTC is an independent government agency founded for the protection of consumers. When it comes to sweepstakes casinos, the FTC is responsible for setting the rules and regulations sweepstakes casinos need to follow.
But hey, we all know that law isn’t that simple — sweepstakes casinos are also regulated by states and state laws, which means each state has its own take on social and sweepstakes casinos and sweepstakes lotteries in general.
The good news for me, and you, is that most states are somewhat lenient towards sweepstakes casinos. Unfortunately for Washingtonians, not every state is super keen on your friendly neighborhood sweepstakes casinos — some states have strict laws that simply deter social casino owners from ever wanting to entangle themselves in all the legal mess.
Most sweepstakes casinos are not available in the states of:
Of course, the specifics vary from one casino to another — some sweepstakes casinos are unavailable in even more states, while some persistent ones are allowed to operate in every state.
Before you register at any sweepstakes casino, make sure to check its availability — the quickest way to answer “are sweepstakes casino legit?” is to browse websites like ours.
We cover and review the best sweepstakes casinos in the country, and you can easily find out which sweepstakes casino is available in which state, learn about all the bonuses and promotions it has to offer, the number and types of games, and much more.
Sweepstakes Casinos vs Traditional Online Casinos
Even though they look similar on the surface and offer the same service, sweepstakes casinos are drastically different from traditional online casinos when it comes to how they operate and what makes them legal.
One of the main disadvantages of traditional online casinos in the US is the limited number of online casinos and their availability. Currently, real money online casinos are available in only six states.
On the other hand, obtaining a permit is significantly easier for sweepstakes casinos, which is one of the main reasons they are available in virtually every corner of the country and why we love them.
Because of that, sweepstakes casinos are a great alternative to traditional online casinos — they offer casino-style games, bonuses and promotions, the opportunity to win real money, and everything else you might expect to find in a traditional online casino, so what’s there not to like?
In addition to being perfectly legal and offering basically everything that online casinos have to offer, sweepstakes casinos and various regulatory bodies ensure that the consumers are protected at the same level as is the case with online casinos, creating a safe and secure environment for players to enjoy casino style games without legal repercussions.
Legal Sweepstakes Casinos You Should Try
Now that we’ve covered all the basics regarding sweepstakes casinos and established that they are perfectly legal in most states in the country, the only thing left to do is show you how we recommend legitimate sweepstakes casinos and why you should give them a go and see what’s all the fuss about.
- Trustworthiness and security are at the top of our list. We do not recommend casinos that are even one iota sketchy. We value transparency and recommend only sweepstakes casinos we would and do play in.
We recommend casinos that are upfront about their services and those that clearly outline their terms and conditions and avoid those that have shady practices and hide unfavorable terms in the fine print.
- We go for casinos that have large gaming libraries and offer games from legitimate software providers. We’re talking NetEnt, Pragmatic Play, 3 Oaks Gaming, and similar.
We understand that losing is part of the game and that beating the odds is what makes casino games fun, but nobody wants to play in a casino with rigged games and no chances to make a profit.
- Lastly, we recommend casinos that have a rewarding bonus and promotions section. At sweepstakes casinos, your entire experience may be affected by having or not having enough coins to play your favorite titles.
Because of that, we like to recommend casinos that’ll shower you with gold coins and sweeps coins, allowing you to play whenever you feel like it.
Apart from that, we tend to focus on the overall experience. The general casino vibes, accessible and knowledgeable customer support or a FAQ section, a well-built and intuitive website, you know, all the little things that help paint the bigger picture.