If you are an online gambling enthusiast, you may well have come across the concept of sweepstakes casinos. These casinos allow players to buy ‘coins’ for real money or to earn similar coins in various ways. The coins can then be used as credits to play slots and other games at the sweepstakes casino. It is always possible to play for free at a sweepstakes casino, ‘no purchase required’, using the coins that can be obtained without spending any money. This is why these casinos are different from other online casinos when it comes to gambling laws and restrictions.
While many gamblers would rather play slots and other casino games for real money, there are plenty of players who like the sweepstake casino model and enjoy playing at these casinos. So, where can you play at sweeps casinos? Are they legal everywhere? And are there any restrictions on who can play?
Are sweepstakes casinos legal in the US?
Sweepstakes casinos are legal in most of the US, including in states where other types of gambling are not allowed. To be precise, sweepstake casinos are currently legal in 49 states, with the state of Washington being the only exception. The reason why Washington is the only state where sweepstake casinos are illegal is complicated, but it is essentially due to how sweepstakes games are defined there. Gambling is not yet legal in Washington, and the state has decided to classify sweepstakes casino games as gambling, whereas other states have not.
Why are sweepstakes casinos legal in US states where gambling is not?
Most states have made the decision that, strictly speaking, sweepstakes are not gambling. The definitions mainly rely on the fact that you do not actually have to place a wager at sweepstakes casinos in order to participate and play the games. You do not directly deposit any money into your online account at a sweeps casino. You can obtain credits for free in various ways, depending on the casino, and then use them to play the games and be entered into the sweepstakes.
Whenever you see the declaration ‘no purchase required’, you are probably dealing with a sweepstake model. Because you can participate without spending any money at all, you are not placing a wager and are therefore not gambling. Even though you can buy credits to play with at sweepstake casinos, you are not required to do so. There are other ways to participate for free. This is why you will often be able to play at these casinos even if you are in a state or country that does not allow gambling.
Are there any restrictions?
Just because sweepstakes casinos are legal does not mean that there are no restrictions on who can sign up. You will generally have to provide proof of identity and proof of age, and you will not be able to sign up if you are under 18. Some people assume that you can play at a sweepstakes casino even if you are under 18 because you are not actually gambling. However, this is not the case. You must be at least 18 years old to sign up, and this will be checked using your ID or other official documentation that shows your date of birth.
You will also generally have to prove that you are who you say you are and that you live in the US, and indeed that you live in a state in which the casino website or app you are signing up for is legally able to operate. So, be prepared to upload a copy of your government-issued ID and proof of your current address.
Is it safe to play at sweepstakes casinos?
Just because something is allowed by law doesn’t always mean that it is 100% safe. However, sweepstakes casinos can be considered just as safe as playing at any one of the growing number of online casinos in the US. There are regulations in all of the 49 states they are authorized to operate in, and any legitimate online sweepstakes casino should publish details of its regulation and licensing status.
While you aren’t depositing money into your casino account when you play at a sweepstake casino, you still need to register, and this will involve disclosing personal information and uploading documents. If you choose to buy paid credits, often referred to as gold coins, you will have to use a credit card or disclose other financial information, and you will also, of course, have to share financial information with the site or app to claim any cash prizes you might win.
For these reasons, you’ll want to make sure that your chosen sweeps casino is safe and legitimate. Sweepstakes casinos should publish their policies when it comes to the safe collection and storage of your data, and use encryption to protect your information. Check all the details of the site carefully and read some industry and customer reviews to ensure that you are using a well-respected and reputable sweepstake casino.
Can I really play for free?
Yes, you can always play for free at a sweepstakes casino. If there is no option to play for free, you are not using a legitimate and legal sweeps casino. You can usually obtain sweeps coins in various ways. Most sites give you some for free when you sign up, and you can also win them on some games or through participating on the site.
Many casinos will give you a package of free coins as a bonus when you buy gold coins, and some will allow you to obtain more coins by mailing in a request. There will often be other promotions that allow you to access extra sweeps coins, so sign up for the site’s email list and pay attention to any promo emails it sends out.
All in all, sweepstakes casinos are a safe way to have some fun online, and are fully legal, licensed and regulated in most of the US. You can play for free and still have the chance to win real cash prizes, so it is no wonder that they are so popular.