Today we will be covering the topic of casino legality in the US and how Americans can play casino games for free, without having to worry about legal…...
Today we will be covering the topic of casino legality in the US and how Americans can play casino games for free, without having to worry about legal matters. We will cover in detail the concept regarding sweepstakes casinos, games, bonuses, payment methods, and of course explain to you how you can make the best casino choice for yourself.
Gambling Laws in the US
Gambling is restricted almost everywhere in the US, except in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, New Jersey. State laws prohibit games, wagers, or bets that rely at least partially upon some element of chance, but if a competition or game rewards prizes to winners based on skill, then it is not considered illegal.
Private betting clubs, betting pools, small-time poker clubs, and fantasy football leagues are often still deemed illegal. But sweepstakes casinos and social casinos are available almost everywhere in the US, since they comply with all laws regarding the State’s requirements.
The Michigan Penal Code broadly forbids elements of consideration, prize, and chance unless specifically permitted by law. Michigan allows sweepstakes casinos as long as the prize awarded is based solely on chance.
According to New York’s current law, playing at sweepstakes and social casino websites is acceptable.
Sweepstakes casinos and social casinos are legal in PA, but they have limits on the rewards. The total value of a prize awarded cannot exceed $1,000, and the sum of all prizes awarded in any seven-day period cannot exceed $25,000 in value. As long as the sponsor awards the prize solely on chance, sweepstakes casinos are permitted.
There are no state-specific legal requirements that are different from the general promotion law for sweepstakes casinos in Nevada. They are lawful as long as they abide by the general rules governing social casinos.
In Washington, sweepstakes casinos are illegal. Raffles and promotional contests of chance are the only two categories of approved activities wherein tickets with unique numbers are chosen for the chance to win a prize.
Online casinos are still prohibited in Iowa, but on the other hand, sweepstakes casinos and social casinos are not only legal but also completely free-to-play. Sports betting is also legal.
Besides sports betting, social casinos are available in Montana. They’re made for fun. On the other hand, sweepstakes casinos that are also legal, offer users the chance to win prizes.
As long as the casino in question follows the main US laws regarding sweepstakes gaming, then it’s allowed in the State of Arkansas.
Mississippi allows only sweepstakes, social, retail sports betting and licensed casinos to be played within the State.
Casino enthusiasts in Alabama still have access to Vegas-style games owing to the State allowing social and sweepstakes casinos.
Real money casinos aren’t allowed in the State of Idaho, but social casinos are, due to the fact money is not involved in any way.
Kentucky does not allow real casino gaming. The social and sweepstakes, though, offer free virtual coins and the chance to win jackpot prizes without any real money being exchanged, which makes them legal.
Oklahoma’s laws allow horse race betting, few full-fledged casinos under the Tribal-State Compact, and of course Sweepstakes casinos.
Sweepstakes casinos are permitted in the State and can be played by anyone over the age of 18.
All social casinos are legal in Connecticut due to the fact they don’t break any laws. Under CT gambling laws, you must be 21 or over in order to play online in the state.
The only requirement NJ has regarding sweepstakes casinos is that the user must be at least 21 years of age in order to participate in casino gaming.
Real money online casinos aren’t legal in Virginia. Sweepstakes and social casinos on the other hand are. As long as there isn’t money involved, casino gaming is legal in the State.
Online casinos and sweepstakes are legal under Texas law. It’s worth noting that publicity releases are solely restricted in Tennessee.
Online Casinos VS Sweepstakes Casinos
We will start by answering what exactly makes sweepstakes and social casinos legal, and why they are allowed in Canada and the States, compared to other types of casino gaming.
Illegal Casinos in the US
Certain types of casinos are considered illegal within the States. That includes but is not limited to:
- Lotteries – In a lottery, a participant has to pay to enter and the winner wins based on a randomized chance. Lotteries can be held only by the State. Private business lotteries are illegal for both the owner and the participants.
- Online Casinos – Online casinos are familiar to everyone. They are a digitized version of a casino where you can play slots, table games, and other types of games. Online casinos use crypto or real money, so they are deemed illegal in the States because of that reason.
- Land-based Casinos – Land-based casinos are available only in some States and go under very heavy restrictions. They have been legalized through State law and are permitted to exist in very limited locations (ex. Vegas).
Legal Casinos in the US
There are two types of casinos that have been deemed legal within the US (with exclusions based on the casino and the user’s home State’s jurisdictions):
- Social casinos – Social casinos are a place where the user can go and experience casino games for free. They are considered “social”, because they usually have a chat box on the site where the different casino players can communicate with one another regarding their winnings and gameplay experience. Those sites are used purely for fun and the player can’t win anything from them.
- Sweepstakes casinos – Sweepstakes casinos are quite similar to social casinos, with the difference that they usually use two types of virtual currency – one of which is non purchasable, but can be redeemed for rewards, and the other one that follows the practices of the social casinos. The reason why sweeps casinos are free is because they don’t involve any purchases of redeemable coins, so they don’t break any laws.
In this section we will be covering all of the different bonuses and promotions that sweepstakes casinos offer and how you can take advantage of them. Note that all of them are completely free, besides the first purchase bonus.
Typically when logging into a casino for the first time, the user gets greeted with two types of bonuses – the no deposit bonus and the first purchase bonus. Below we have briefly explained how exactly they work:
- No Deposit Bonus – the no deposit bonus is self-explanatory. The moment you sign up you receive a bonus of virtual currency automatically added to your account, so you can start playing games right away.
- First Purchase Bonus – every sweepstakes casino has a store where the user can purchase extra Gold Coins (a virtual currency used in social casinos that allows the player to play different casino games for free, but has no value outside of them) in case they don’t want to wait for the casino’s daily coin bonuses. This store typically offers a first purchase bonus, where the player receives way more than they pay for, when buying for the first time. Typically with the pack they purchase, they receive additional Gold Coins and also Sweeps Coins as a bonus (more on them below).
Other Popular Bonuses
- Social Media Contests – The casinos have their own social media where they constantly offer different types of bonuses and promotions that the player can claim for a limited amount of time.
- Bonus Wheel – The bonus wheel can be spun every 24 hours, giving the player the chance to win a huge sum of Gold Coins and Sweep Coins for free.
- Bonus Chest – Most casinos offer a bonus chest or a similar alternative where you can claim a set of virtual coins every 3 hours.
- Referral Bonus – The casino offers the players the possibility to invite their friends to play via a referral link. Every time someone joins from this link or completes a specific task, both users get awarded with a bonus.
Casinos to Play From the US
Here we have listed some of the most popular casinos that are currently on the US market, give some short summary about each one of them, and of course tell you where in America they’re allowed to be played:
Pulsz is one of the most popular sweepstakes casinos. It offers a huge variety of bonuses such as: 5,000 GC welcome bonus, free weekly promotions, daily login bonuses, rounds, features, spins, and scratchcards. A popular bonus is to claim free Sweeps Coins through mail. Chumba will reward you with 5 SC via sending a request card.
Pulsz is currently restricted from playing in Idaho and Washington State.
Chumba Casino is one of the earliest social casinos to appear on the market – it was released back in 2012. It’s a trustworthy casino that is licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority. Although it doesn’t offer a traditional bonus program, it does offer:
- Progressive jackpots in games
- Variety of payment options
- Loyalty rewards
Chumba is currently restricted in Washington State, Idaho and Quebec.
Golden Hearts Casino is one of a kind, as it combines charity and social gaming into one, while still keeping all features of a sweepstakes casino. It’s known among Americans mainly for its charitable nature. Some of its features include:
- Welcome bonus
- Friend referral program (for a $10 donation done by your friend, you receive 5,000 Golden Hearts Coins)
- Daily bonus wheel
Golden Hearts Games are allowed in every State, upon a certain condition. The player must be 18 years of age in order to play. Residents of Nebraska need to be at least 19 y.o and residents of Puerto Rico and Mississippi need to be at least 21 y.o. in order to play.
- 300,000 welcome bonus
- Daily wheel of fortune and bonus chests throughout the day
- Special offer of 99,000 & 300 LP for $2.99
- Social media promotions
Hard Rock is available to play everywhere within the US. It doesn’t go against any jurisdictions within the States law.
Pulsz Bingo shares a lot of similarities and perks as Pulsz, but it’s its own separate site dedicated to American bingo fans. It offers bonuses such as:
- 5,000 sign up bonus
- Free daily bingo bonus
- Package discounts
Pulsz Bingo is restricted in the States of Washington, Nevada, and Idaho.
Sugar House Casino
Sugar House Casino4Fun offers many free-to-play games and bonuses, including an hourly bonus where you can claim virtual coins every 4 hours. Some other bonuses it offers, include:
- 20 VC$ welcome bonus
- Live streaming of sporting events
- Fast withdrawal process
- Rewards for Loyalty program
SugarHouse Casino4Fun is available to play anywhere in the US.
Sweepstake Legal Games
Below we have covered the sweepstakes game library, mentioning each game that can be played in an online casino:
- Slots (megaways, progressive, fixed, and Slingo)
- Video Poker
- Fish Table Games
- Live Games
3-rd Party Providers
In this section we mention the top 3 some of the most popular game providers legal in the US and their most popular games:
- Pragmatic – Sweet Bonanza, Gates of Olympus, Starlight Princess
- NetEnt – Starburst, Dead or Alive 2, Gonzos Quest
- Hacksaw – Money Train, Hand of Anubis, Wanted Dead or Awild
What Makes These Casinos Legal
The reason why sweepstakes casinos are legal within the States is due to the fact that they don’t use real money in order for the player to play. They are completely free and are used just for fun. What is unique about them is that unlike normal social casinos, you can win various rewards from them – completely free of charge.
Sweepstakes casinos use two types of virtual currencies – Gold Coins and Sweeps Coins.
Gold Coins are used to play games for free in the social casinos. They are purchasable, but they have no monetary value outside of the casino. GC can also be claimed completely for free through different bonuses and promotions offered by the casino.
Sweeps Coins on the other hand, work a little bit differently. They can be used to play within the casino, just like the GC, but they have one key difference – they are not purchasable. This means that the only way to claim them is through different bonuses given out by the casino. What is unique about them is that they can be redeemed for cash rewards or real life bonuses.
The redeeming process in sweepstakes casinos is quite simple. All the player has to do is verify their identity to the casino beforehand – usually by providing an identification document such as a driver’s license or an ID.
In order to redeem the player has to reach a certain threshold of Sweeps Coins – which is typically 100 SC (equal to $100).
The cash out process can take anywhere between 1 and 5 working days.
NOTE: Not all casinos offer monetary prizes. Some offer gift cards, real life rewards, bonuses or sometimes no rewards at all.
Below we have listed some of the most commonly found purchase methods that social casinos currently use:
- Bank Transfer
States Where You Can’t Play
The most commonly knowns States where you cannot play or you’re restricted by some specific brands or casinos are:
- Washington DC
- New York
Choosing the Best Online Casino to Play (Guide)
Although sweepstakes casinos are trying their best to initiate a real casino gaming experience, not all of them cover everyone’s needs. Because of that reason, we have compiled a little guide of what you need to look for when choosing a social casino you’d like to pursue:
- Security & Legitimacy – Probably one of the most important things you should look for when choosing a casino to play in, is whether or not the casino is licensed. Although sweepstakes casinos needn’t use the same legality rules as online ones, it is still suspicious when they don’t provide transparency regarding their ownership and license practice.
- Safety and Fair Play – If possible check the fairness of the games that the casino offers. Many sweepstakes casinos have started to get tested the past few years by famous auditing companies such as TST TestLabs, GMM Labs, iTech, and others. Those companies test online and land-based casino games as well.
- Game Library – The games offered by the sweepstakes casinos typically resemble ones seen in real casinos, and some of them are even legalized casino games that can be played for free. They could be proprietary, in-house games, or made by 3rd party providers. For example the famous game provider NetEnt provides games for both real and sweepstake casinos.
- Promotions & Bonuses – Social casinos offer many bonuses at all times so the player can always get free coins without having to make a purchase at the casino. If the player does decide to buy a pack, the store also constantly has offers, so there’s a bonus with every purchase.
- Reward System – Different sweepstakes casinos offer different prizes, so you need to do additional research for your preferred casino in advance. Not every casino offers cash rewards, some offer real life deals or different bonuses.
How to Sign up at US Social Casinos
All social casinos require you to sign up in order to play on their site (Hard Rock Social Casino being an exception). Here are the steps that you need to take in order to make an account:
- Enter your preferred casino site by writing their link in the search bar or via searching its name on Google.
- Select the “Join now”, “Sign Up”, or the “Register” button (depending on how the casino named it).
- Input your email address and password, as well as any personal information required – such as your name, DOB (date of birth), and address as stated on your official issued ID.
- Enter a bonus code if asked to, and if you have access to one. It will give you extra coins on top of your welcome bonus.
- Press the button that allows you to finish your registration.
- Head over to your email inbox to confirm your account via the confirmation link that the casino just sent you.
- Go back to the casino and log into your account.
- Claim your welcome bonuses and start playing.
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Sweeps casinos are legal in almost all states, as they do not have a way to deposit and play with real money as in traditional online casinos. Most sweepstakes casinos are restricted in Washington state only.
When playing in sweepstakes casinos with Sweeps Coins, your winnings can be redeemed for real money prizes. You cannot purchase these coins, you can only receive them for free by the casino.
Yes, some sweepstakes casinos do offer live dealer games. By now there are only a few, like BetRivers and SugarHouse Casino4Fun, for example.
Sweeps casinos offer mainly slots, but you can also enjoy keno, table games, such as blackjack, baccarat and roulette. There are also more exotic options such as fishing games and instant wins. A few brands also offer sports betting.