If recent reports are anything to go by, Americans have taken to online gambling like fish to water.
According to recent reports by NBC News, the popularity of online gambling soared in 2021, with the industry experiencing a 230% jump in revenue in the first 10 months of 2021. The rise of the iGaming sector has been driven by a number of factors, including the closure of in-person casinos due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of mobile gaming, and the gradual relaxation of gambling laws across the US.
The result of this shift is that there has unquestionably never been a better time to be an online gambling fan in the US. Regardless of whether you prefer online casinos or sportsbooks, you are spoiled for choice these days!
This choice has been helped by an influx of foreign iGaming companies into the US market, which has increased both the total number and variety of options.
For the states that have put in place the proper legal frameworks for different forms of iGaming and sports betting, the benefits are already clear. Tax revenue from iGaming and other assorted activities now makes up an important source of revenue that can be used for a variety of purposes. In 2021 alone, this reached record levels of $53bn!
Of the various different types of gambling that have grown in popularity in recent months and years, perhaps one of the most interesting are sweepstakes casinos, which occupy a unique space in the US iGaming sector!
But what exactly are sweepstakes casinos, and what makes them so different?
To answer this question, we will provide a quick overview of what sweepstakes casinos are, where they are legal in the US, and what makes them so fun! Once you have become acquainted with what they are, you can then go off and find the best sweepstakes casinos online!
What are sweepstakes casinos?
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Sweepstakes casinos provide a unique gambling experience that can often be tricky for newer players to wrap their head around.
At their most basic, however, sweepstakes casinos differ from the traditional online casinos you might be used to as they don’t use real money. For this reason, in many states, they aren’t technically classed as gambling.
Sweepstakes casinos take their name from the older form of ‘sweepstakes’ contests in which prizes went to a winner who was picked at random from a pool of participants. One of the most popular examples of this was the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, which saw hundreds of thousands of participants purchase tickets for a chance to win big prizes!
Online sweepstakes casinos take elements of this basic sweepstakes formula but rework it for the online casino setting.
How do sweepstakes casinos work?
Rather than players placing individual bets with real money, in sweepstakes casino games, players are offered the chance to win prizes without having to put down any cash.
Typically, players will use ‘sweep coins’, which is a type of virtual currency that can only be won in free games or given as part of a welcome bonus or promotion. Sweeps coins are usually exchangeable for cash or other prizes.
At sweepstakes casinos, players will also use gold coins. These are usually awarded when you sign up for an account, and you can also acquire more by simply buying them. Gold coins are used to play games for fun.
Where are sweepstakes casinos legal in the US?
Due to their unique nature, online sweepstakes casinos are legal in all US states except for Washington, which has specific laws in place prohibiting players from accessing them and online casinos from setting them up.
This is great news for online casino fans across the US as it means that you won’t run into many restrictions regardless of where you are located – except, of course, for Washington state! Because of this, players across the US now have access to safe and secure entertainment in the form of online sweepstakes casino sites!
However, you might be asking yourself, how can sweepstakes be legal in states where regular online casinos are prohibited?
The answer to this is due to the unique nature of sweepstakes casinos. As players are not placing real-money wagers directly on what they think the outcome of a specific game or event will be, this does not constitute gambling.
Instead, players are buying a form of virtual currency from sweepstakes casinos, with the winnings from these virtual games qualifying players to enter into certain prize pools. Because of this, sweepstakes casinos are not classified as traditional forms of gambling and fall outside existing prohibitions!
However, this does not mean that there are no laws regulating the operation of sweepstakes casinos. Sweepstakes casinos will still have to abide by various local laws and regulations relating to the fairness of their games.
Similarly, they will also be subject to various standards for the handling of client funds and the security of the website. Players might also have to provide proof of identity and payment information to receive the prizes of any sweepstake they enter. Additionally, only players aged 18 years or over will be allowed to play – though this might vary from state to state.
The future of sweepstakes casinos
As we have seen, sweepstakes casinos present a fun alternative to traditional online casinos and provide both a unique playing experience and a player-friendly prize structure.
This has proved to be a hit with fans across the US, and despite the fact that they might be less well-known than their traditional casino counterparts, the popularity of sweepstakes casinos has continued to rise!
As the iGaming sector continues to grow across the US, we can expect sweepstakes to also grow in popularity. Given that the US is now a patchwork of different legal regimes regulating online gambling, sweepstakes are a fun alternative that can be played in nearly every state!