How Does a Sweepstakes Casino Work?

Written by:
Alex Windsor
Fact checked by:
Michael Fatouros
April 17, 2024
How Sweepstakes Casinos Work?

Sweepstakes casinos work similarly to online casinos but under a different model. If you have no idea what we are talking about, you are in the best place to learn how a sweepstakes casino works.

Sweepstakes casinos are legal throughout 47 US states and let you play online casino games for free. The no purchase necessary policy is what separates them from real money online casinos, which are legal in 6 states only.

For players, sweepstakes casinos are a way to play casino games and stand a chance to win real money prizes without registering at unsafe offshore casinos.

Let me explain how sweepstake casinos work, what makes them legal, what games are available, and how you can make the most of their virtual and sweeps currencies.

What Is a Sweepstakes Casino?

A sweepstakes casino is a fusion of real money online casinos and sweepstakes. Sweepstakes are contests that don’t require any skills. Rather, their outcome is random or luck-based. US sweepstakes casinos must abide by the sweepstakes casino rules to escape the classic gambling label.

There are two main aspects to the sweepstakes model:

  • No purchase necessary policy: Alternative Method of Entry (AMOE)
  • Virtual currencies: Gold Coins and free Sweeps Coins

Naturally, there are more things that separate sweepstakes casinos from traditional online casinos. For instance, these provide more of a social gaming experience through their social media, promotions, and monthly competitions. Moreover, sweeps cash casino sites usually focus on slot games only, even though there are exceptions.

The terminology an online sweepstakes casino uses might confuse you, but that’s what allows it to remain legal. Some of the terms you will encounter include gold coins, sweeps coins, redeeming cash prizes, purchasing gold coins, daily free sweeps coins, and sweepstakes credits.

Are Sweepstakes Casinos Legal in the US?

US map with states where sweepstakes are illegal

Yes, sites operating under the sweepstakes casino model are legal across 47 states. Idaho, Michigan, and Washington D.C. are the three states that forbid sweepstakes sites.

Some sites like horseplay, which employ horse racing and social gaming, are restricted to 30 states. Aside from this operator, the rest of the sweepstakes casinos can operate in all states, and often Canada, or in the vast majority.

Accessibility is not the only issue we consider when reviewing the safety and legality of sweepstakes casino sites. Third-party testing of games for RTP and RNG and legit software providers powering the sweeps cash slots and other games are also necessary.

Adding secure and quick banking methods to the above differentiates legit sweepstakes casinos from rogue ones. On that note, our reviews, site comparisons, and guide resources can safely help you navigate the social gaming world and get the most out of sweepstakes sites.

Virtual Currencies

As long as online sweepstakes casinos allow players to join and play casino games completely free, they are not classed as casinos. That’s why they give away massive welcome bonus sweeps coins, reload offers, guaranteed prize pools, daily free sweeps coins, and other gold coin bonuses for existing players.

As a player, you are lucky to play online slots, table games, wheel games, online poker, fish games, and much more without paying anything. But at the end of the day, the main virtual currency has no monetary value.

Let us clearly explain the sweeps coins and gold coins’ purpose:

Gold Coins

Gold coins (GC) are the virtual currency used for playing games at sweepstakes casinos. Different sweepstake sites can have different names for these coins, but they serve the same purpose. Instead of dollars, your balance will be displayed in GC(s).

You can purchase this virtual currency for real money, but it cannot be exchanged for real cash. Some of the most common payment methods include PayPal, Apple Pay, Visa, and Mastercard. This is key for a sweep cash casino to remain legal under the sweepstakes model by offering recreational casino games.

Sweeps Coins

Sweeps coins (SC) are the secondary virtual currency, which cannot be purchased for real money but has an actual monetary value. This means that you can exchange it at the sweepstakes site and win real cash, usually at a $1 rate for each of your free coins.

Some operators award gift cards, merchandise, free trips, and cash rewards instead of real money when you exchange this virtual currency.

How Do You Get Sweeps Coins if You Cannot Buy Them?

Sweepstakes casinos offer them for free, but there are a few shortcuts to getting SCs! New players will automatically be awarded sweeps coins after registration, through mini-contests, as a daily free sweeps coins reward for logging in, and more ways. But you can also get them as a side bonus when they purchase gold coins packages.

Then, you can play money games using these virtual currencies at sweepstakes parlors and either lose them or multiply them as you do at an online casino with real money. You can redeem sweeps coins for cash rewards, which is what makes sweepstakes casinos the best legal alternative to traditional online casinos with wide availability.

Earning Free Coins/Gold Coins

To play sweepstakes games, you must own some coins – either gold coins or sweeps coins. Since sweepstakes casinos must be free to operate in the US to be classed as such, they will hand out their virtual currencies when you register a new account. This is just like welcome bonuses in real money casinos.

The following are the main ways to earn sweepstakes coins:

  • 🎁 No Deposit Sweepstakes Casino Bonus: There is no sweepstakes casino requiring players to spend money to play the available sweeps coins games. All sites hand out gold coins and, in some cases, sweeps coins when you first join their platforms. These freebies are quoted as welcome offers, no deposit offers, no purchase of gold coins bonuses, or something of that sort.
  • 🎁 Daily Logins: Players get daily free GCs and SCs just for logging into their account. Some give out only GCs. This depends on the operator you sign up with.
  • 🎁 Purchase Gold Coins: When you purchase Gold Coins packages, you will receive free Sweeps Coins as a bonus. How many SCs you get depends on your purchase and the operator. For instance, at Fortune Coins, for your first purchase of $10, you get 20,000,000 GCs + 5,000 free Fortune Coins (worth $50), which is a $40 discount.
  • 🎁 Social Media Contests: Adhering to their social casino gaming element, sweepstakes casinos often run quizzes, contests, and competitions on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The winners receive free sweeps and gold coins to play casino-style games.
  • 🎁 Mail Promotions: This is not something you would find in a typical online casino, but it is common practice with sweepstakes casinos. Users can send mail to the operating company’s address and win free sweeps coins.
  • 🎁 VIP Bonuses: As you return and continue to play sweepstakes casino games, you will be accumulating virtual points. These can be exchanged for free sweeps and gold coins to play poker and other games or redeemed as cash prizes. Of course, this is applicable only if the casino has a VIP Club.
  • 🎁 Monthly Competitions: Also known as tournaments in regular casinos, these competitions let you take part and stand a chance to win a piece from a bigger prize pool. The prizes can go higher than 10 million GCs.
  • 🎁 Referral Bonus: You can invite your friends and get compensated for it. Some sweepstakes companies limit the number of friends you can invite, while others let you bring as many people as you want. Sweepstakes operators usually reward you and the invitee with a SC + GC package.

Redeeming Real Cash Prizes

While there is no requirement to pay to play like at online casinos, sweepstakes casinos offer the chance to win real money without spending a cent. So, how do you redeem cash prizes from an online sweepstakes casino?

Sweepstakes sites support similar banking methods to online casinos, although the available options tend to be more limited. The available redemption methods usually include:

The best news for players is that sweepstakes sites adhere to traditional online casinos’ standards. They conduct Know Your Customer (KYC) checks before your first redemption while protecting your information with SSL encryption software. The KYC process is also standard, requiring a copy of your ID/Passport, a recent utility bill, and a photocopy of your payment method.

After submitting a redemption request, the money should appear in your account within 24 hours and 5 business days. The minimum redemption limit varies across sweepstakes poker sites, but a minimum of 50 SC(s) is considered standard practice.

In most cases, sweepstakes sites that allow Prizeout gift cards for redemptions set a lower limit. You will receive your chosen gift cards within 24 hours on your email.

Playing Modes at Sweepstake Casinos SC GC toggle

A great benefit of sweepstakes casinos over real money casinos is the ability to play for free. There is no need to purchase coins unless you want to. Aside from the differentiation between sweeps coins and gold coins, sweepstakes sites have 2 playing modes:

  • Free to Play (GCs) – Play with virtual currency that has no monetary value.
  • Premium Mode (SCs) – Play with Sweeps Coins that you can later redeem for real money prizes.

Depending on the mode or virtual currency you employ, you will also have the chance to win more of it. For example, if you win big playing a social casino app with sweeps coins, you can earn solid cash prizes. The gold coin wins will just allow you to play more of the available games.

Many of the offers look pretty impressive, with gold coins coming in the millions. However, the number of free sweeps coins rarely exceeds 10 since such a bonus has a $10 cash value. This is if the redemption rate is set to $1 = 1 SC.

What Games Are There at Sweepstake Casinos?

Much like real money online casinos, sweepstakes operators fill their lobbies with a variety of Vegas-styled casino games. This includes online slots, table games, progressive jackpots, poker rooms, bingo, scratchcards, and even live dealers.

These are all the game options at sweepstakes casinos:

Sweepstakes Casinos: Takeaway

With a clear understanding of how a sweepstakes casino works, you’ll be having fun without worrying about your safety or legality. Here’s our sweepstakes takeaway:

  • ✅ Sweepstakes online casinos are legal across the US (except Michigan, Idaho, and Washington) and Canada (except Quebec)
  • ✅ You have to be 18+ or older to play at sweepstakes
  • ✅ You can play without spending a cent
  • ✅ Switch between 2 playing modes: Gold Coins & Sweeps Coins
  • ✅ There are plenty of ways to receive free SCs
  • ✅ You can redeem SCs for real money prizes
Alex Windsor

Enthusiast of the online gaming world, I have a particular fondness for sweepstakes casinos. With a passion for slots, table games, and the unique mechanics of the sweepstakes model, I’m always eager to explore and share insights on the latest in digital casino trends. Las Vegas might be the traditional hub, but the virtual realm is where my heart truly lies.