Unlike many other countries, online gambling is incredibly regulated in the US and the availability of online casinos varies from state to state. Legalization for online gambling is left to the state jurisdiction which means not all Americans have access to online casinos.
This has led to the development of other industries such as sports betting and online sweepstakes. Online sweepstakes in particular have benefited hugely, and this industry has developed rapidly in the last few years.
In this article, we look at how US gambling regulation has affected the sweepstakes industry and what it means going forward. This also includes a look at popular sweepstakes casinos such as Fortune Coins, WOW Vegas and Pulsz to explore what they have to offer.
Limited online gambling availability has led to alternatives being created
As stated above, online casino availability is very limited in the US. Gambling laws and licenses are created and managed at a state level, Currently online casinos are only legal in the following states:
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
So, that’s just six out of 50 states where online casinos are available. In these states, the online casino scene is incredibly competitive, and you have some popular platforms such as BetMGM, DraftKings and Borgata who have well-developed online casinos.
Sports betting is entirely different and online sportsbooks are available in over 20 states, while daily fantasy sports betting is also widely available. Over time, we expect gambling laws to relax in the US and states like Indiana and North Carolina are already making changes and discussing the potential introduction of new laws.
The US now has a great range of sweepstakes casinos
Due to the limited availability of online casinos, the online sweepstakes industry has exploded. The sweepstakes industry has always been popular in the US, but has mainly focused on prize draws, raffles and lotteries, rather than anything related to online gambling. However, recently, we have seen a rise in a new type of online platform — the sweepstakes casino.
Sweepstakes casinos explained
Sweepstakes casinos have two underlying premises. Firstly, they must offer free-to-play casino-style games. Secondly, they generally have a sweepstake element where you can enter prize draws and raffles to win prizes or premium currency that can be redeemed for real money.
This essentially allows them to offer a type of online gambling, without being officially classified as online gambling. Typically, sweepstakes casinos use two types of virtual currency — gold coins and sweeps coins.
Gold coins are the free virtual currency and can be obtained via daily login bonuses, social media competitions and usually as a welcome offer. These are what you use to play the casino games. Sweeps coins are the premium currency, which can be redeemed for real money prizes.
Think of sweepstakes casinos as a mobile app where you can play games for free. They also usually have gold coin packages that you can buy, which is similar to a microtransaction in a mobile game. Oftentimes you get bonus sweeps coins with these gold coin packages as an additional incentive.
The platforms feature real casino games from reputable software developers such as Pragmatic Play, and platforms like Fortune Coins and Pulsz have slots, table games and even live dealer games in some instances. You essentially get the complete casino experience without having to spend money!
The casino-style games operate identically to the games at online casinos, but instead of betting with dollars, you place wagers with gold coins. For example, a spin on a slot game like Starburst might cost 100 gold coins with the payouts also being in gold coins.
Generally, video slots are the most popular games available at sweepstakes casinos and typically there is only a limited selection of table games. You can, of course, usually play blackjack, roulette and baccarat, but there might not be many variants available. The live dealer games are typically limited also compared to offerings at online casinos.
Where are US sweepstakes casinos legal?
US sweepstakes laws are far more developed and available than online casino regulations and US gaming laws. Sweepstakes casinos operate under US sweepstakes laws and can be played in 49 states. They can be played anywhere except Washington state.
With this huge availability, it’s easy to see why they are exploding in popularity. While US online casinos are only available in six states, virtually any US citizen over the age of 21 can legally play at online sweepstakes casinos.
Sweepstakes platforms are on the rise due to US gambling regulations
Until other US states relax their laws on online gambling and allow the legitimization of online casinos, we can expect the sweepstakes industry to continue to thrive. Sweepstakes casinos fill a void in casino-style gambling and bring it to a wider audience in the US.
More and more sweepstakes platforms are sprouting up each month and we can expect the industry to continue to evolve.