Are Sweeps Casinos Legal?

US gambling laws are complex and each state has its own legislation regarding online casinos. While it's not our job to opine on the matter, what we can do for our readers is point to the only legal alternative. Sweepstakes casinos offer top-tier games of chance which patrons play with the prospect of winning cash prizes.

the author

Jon Ridehalgh

date post

Nov 27, 2023


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There are no legal loopholes involved or anything of that sort to play and win cash prizes. Online sweepstakes casinos are 100% legal across all but a couple US states and the winnings are legit, i.e. you can withdraw real money directly to your bank account.

For those who want to understand more on the matter, our guide ascertains the fact that online sweepstakes casinos are legal in the US and Canada. Along the way, we will lay down the few exceptions that apply and the basic requirements to registering and playing at a sweepstake casino.

How Sweeps Casinos Are Legal in the US

We don’t know who the inventors of the sweepstakes casinos legal model are, but they are deserving of recognition in our book. In reality, the feat of genius at hand is that someone applied the rules for sweepstakes drawings to online casino games.

Thanks to diligent legal research, it is concluded that people across the US can allow themselves a true casino experience online – safely, legally and way more affordably compared to regular online casinos.

Sweepstakes casinos don’t require a purchase

There is no double entendre at play here. Sweeps casinos are required by law to provide their slots, card and table games, bingo, fish games, and the like – free of charge. This means, anyone who is of legal age can register to participate in sweepstakes casino drawings without depositing actual money. On the other hand, money can be legitimately won as all the games play and pay the same way as in the best casinos in the US.

The twin-currency model allows coins-to-cash redemptions

This is the main reason why casino gamers can play games of chance for free. Online sweepstakes casinos never use real cash. Instead, they work with gold coins (GCs) and sweeps coins (SCs), which are virtual currency.

Both currencies are limited to sweepstakes casinos and can be obtained for free on a daily basis, by playing casino games and from bonuses and promotions.

It is important to note that gold coins can also be purchased in bulk packages. And, as part of the purchase, players receive free sweeps coins which are used for promotional play, that is, for your chance to win more cash-redeemable SCs.

State licenses and land casino affiliation are not required

In any given state, the opening of an online casino requires a state license and a business partnership with one of the land casinos there. This is a legal gatework that keeps the number of real money online casinos limited, as well as the number of states where they are legal.

On the other hand, most sweepstakes casinos don’t have a license as they aren’t specifically required by the law. But this doesn’t mean operators have a free reign. On the contrary, they must respond to the regulators’ rules and to the market’s expectations, which we’ll cover below.

Where Sweeps Casinos Are Legal

Presently, only Washington state doesn’t allow sweepstakes casinos. All others do, because due to regulation, the sweeps model is different from online gambling in traditional online casinos. Yet you can still win real money.

Social casino and sweepstakes casino operators need to cover the legal ground to secure their permissions from each respective state. Some states’ sweepstakes laws are tough to crack, like Idaho’s and Nevada’s, which gives you an idea which states are usually off-limits for the majority of the online sweeps venues.

Michigan also seems to slowly move towards a ban on sweepstakes casinos, with VGW-operated sites already moving out of state.

State Requirements and Restrictions

At the state level, legislators have enacted laws and regulations with regard to the fairness of the games, the business’ advertising practices, the legal age requirement, data privacy protection and similar details. For the most part, the key requirements are universal across all states:

  • 18+ to register and play
  • Legal and Privacy policy
  • Company name
  • T&Sc must be to legible and readily available
  • Registered users must be given free entries

The basis of each state’s sweepstakes casino legislation, however, is to be found at the federal level. The US Federal Trade Commission (see below) has set the main legal groundwork that the states adhere to.

How to Find Out If Sweeps Casinos Are Legal in Your State

Your best – and free at that – bet is to check out the sweepstakes casino reviews on our website. Our experts read each casino’s terms and conditions and summarize it, including terms regarding welcome bonuses, so you don’t have to. In turn, you can find out easily which states are not off limits for the casinos that pique your interest and claim their ongoing promotions.

When you open one of our expert reviews under the “Casinos” tab, each page specifies US states where the respective casino is not licensed. Our advice is to open more than one review, because most sweepstakes games venues are available in all other states except Washington.

Are Sweeps Casinos Regulated?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an independent government agency founded for the protection of consumers, is responsible for setting the rules and expectations in the oversight of sweepstakes casinos.

According to the FTC, sweepstakes casinos can provide games of chance legally because they don’t require the participants’ money to make bets on a casino game – which in this case is considered a sweepstake.

Another requirement ranking high on the ladder is that participants can obtain free entries (i.e. free sweeps coins) via regular mail, by sending requests to the company’s postal address.

The commission also requires operators to present clearly the eligibility rules, T&Cs, age requirement, to promote safe gaming, offer self-exclusion options, and so forth.

Legal Sweepstakes Casinos vs Online Casinos

Presently only six US states allow real money casinos. Even though few more (IL, IN, MA) are slated to legalize them in the coming year or two, the overwhelming majority of US states are set to keep their restrictive laws intact.

That said, sweepstakes casinos have a lower entry bar with the state legislature, which makes the issuing of permits far easier compared to those that are required for online casinos. But that doesn’t mean the former enjoy lax rules.

On the contrary, the rules mentioned above, among others, are enforced and some sweepstakes casino sites have been shut down permanently for violating those rules. In other words, the consumer is protected at the same level as with online casinos, regardless of the fact that a given venue offers the social or sweepstakes model to free casino gaming.

Legal Sweepstakes Casinos We Recommend

High up on the list of important questions for novice players is how to choose a good, legit sweepstakes casino. Indeed there are venues out there that try to pass as one, but fail in few key regards that our research controls for:

  • Game providers
  • Responsible gambling mechanisms
  • Legal info and privacy policy
  • Multiple, industry-standard payment methods

Here is how these tie into the big picture that shapes a legal, trusted, time-tested sweeps casino, the best of which are covered by our expert reviewers.

First off, the good venues offer a diverse catalog of games from well-established providers like NetEnt, Pragmatic Play, Blueprint Gaming, 3 Oak, Nolimit City, Hacksaw, etc.

These providers license their games to venues that can afford to host games of that caliber, meaning, with complex gameplay mechanics, multiple bonus features, large payout potential, jackpots, etc.

Legit venues are able to incorporate automatic safe gambling options that players can rely on to set time, betting and overall spending limits.

The legal and privacy pages of legit casinos will state clearly how your personal information is treated. The standard is that they don’t sell your info to a third party or parties – which is dubious about non-legit online sweepstakes casinos.

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the author

Jon Ridehalgh

Slot Tester

the author

Jon comes from a background as a real money slots player with over 20 years of playing experience and knowledge(yes, he is old!) along with 10 years of experience working in the igaming sector. Always keen to play and recommended the best slot machines available, with the industry knowledge to be able to break down complex casino terms like bonus wagering and RTP. For the past 3 years, he has been working with a focus on Sweepstakes Casinos, helping you decipher the currency systems and nuances that make this style of social gaming so popular.

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