Only a handful of states have legalized real money casinos. That said, you can still play some online casino games without breaking any laws. You have to play with certain online sweepstakes casinos operating under US sweepstakes laws.
In fact, popular US sweepstakes casino brands, such as Chumba Casino, LuckyLand Slots and Funzpoints, allow you to play a variety of real online slots and casino games for the equivalent of real money in Iowa and elsewhere in the US — everywhere except Washington state.
The slots you’ll find at sweepstakes casinos look a lot like the ones you see at online casinos in states where they’re legal and at brick-and-mortar casinos all across the country. Sweepstakes casinos design and build their own in-house slots based on the most popular slots. They’ve got similar bonus games, free spin features, jackpots and other features.
These sites operated under US sweepstakes laws by allowing you to play casino games and slots online with virtual currencies instead of cash. One of the currencies has no cash value, and while the other allows you to redeem winnings for cash prizes, you can’t buy it. There are, however, three ways to get it for free:
Once you get this virtual currency, you can use it to play online casino games and slots. Then, you can convert anything you win into cash prizes.
Remember the old Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes or its rival American Family Publishers, the one Ed McMahon used to plug?
These were direct marketing companies that sold magazine subscriptions through the running of various free-to-enter sweepstakes contests. They were able to call themselves sweepstakes because entry into the contests was free. The contests were governed by US sweepstakes laws, the same laws from under online sweepstakes casinos operate.
In other words, sweepstakes casinos don’t run afoul of any US law because they’re akin to the same free-to-enter sweepstakes contests that have been around for decades.
It’s simple. You can play online casino games at sweepstakes casinos using one of the specific casino’s two types of virtual currency. Cash does not play. The trick is that only one of these virtual currencies has any potential cash value, but you can’t buy that type.
You can get it for free by contacting the online sweepstakes casino and asking for some, winning it through free social media contests or getting some as a free bonus when you buy the sweepstakes casino’s other type of virtual currency, the one with no cash value.
Once you get some, you can use it to play casino games and slots. Once you’re done, you can take whatever you win and redeem it for cash prizes. In a nutshell, that’s how sweepstakes casinos operate. Here’s a look at the most popular online sweepstakes casinos in the country:
LuckyLand is a sweepstakes slots site. Its two virtual currencies are Gold Coins (no cash value) and Sweeps Coins. LuckyLand allows you to play online slots with both currencies and convert Sweeps Coin winnings into cash prizes.
Sign up for a new account, and LuckyLand will give you 7,777 Gold Coins and 10 Sweeps Coins for free. LuckyLand also offers a $10 Gold Coin package for $4.99 on first purchase. The package comes with 50,000 Gold Coins and 10 free Sweeps Coins attached.
LuckyLand’s library of slots includes a variety of jackpot, free spin and bonus game slots. There’s a LuckyLand app that you can use on Android devices, and the site also works on web browsers for Apple devices.
Chumba is the biggest online sweepstakes casino operating across the US. It is a sister site to LuckyLand — both are Virtual Gaming Worlds sites — so its currencies are also Gold Coins (no cash value) and Sweeps Coins. Chumba allows you to play online slots and a variety of online casino games with both currencies and convert Sweeps Coin winnings into cash prizes.
Sign up for a new account, and Chumba will give you 2 million Gold Coins and two Sweeps Coins for free. Chumba also offers a $30 Gold Coin package for $10 when you make your first purchase. The package comes with 3 million Gold Coins and 30 free Sweeps Coins.
The Chumba game library includes slots, blackjack and video poker. The software is user-friendly, the variety of games is unmatched, and while there’s no app, you can play Chumba games using your mobile device’s browser.
Funzpoints is another sweepstakes casino. Its two virtual currencies are Standard Funzpoints (no cash value) and Premium Funzpoints. The site allows you to play online slots and keno with both currencies and turn Premium Funzpoints winnings into cash.
Sign up for a new account, and Funzpoints will give you 1,000 Standard Funzpoints and $2.50 in Premium Funzpoints for free. The site also offers a 100% match up to $20 when you make your first purchase.
There are also daily sweepstakes jackpots and player rewards on the site, including a Funzwheel, which offers prizes every three hours and a daily $350 sweepstakes jackpot draw.
That’s right; there’s even a sweepstakes poker site. As part of the VGW group of sites, Global Poker also uses Gold Coins (no cash value) and Sweeps Coins. Global allows you to play online poker tournaments and ring games with both currencies and redeem Sweeps Coin winnings for cash prizes.
Sign up for a new account, and Global Poker will give you a $20 Gold Coin package for free. Global also offers a $40 Gold Coin package for $20 when you make your first purchase. The package comes with 200,000 Gold Coins and 40 free Sweeps Coins.
The site’s player pool is growing all the time, and Global runs multiple guaranteed prize pool tournaments and tournament series. The software is easy enough to navigate, and although there’s no app, you can play online poker on Global Poker using your mobile device’s browser.
Call it Premium, Sweeps Coins or anything you like, the kind of virtual currency sweepstakes casinos offer that allows you to redeem winnings for cash prizes is how you can play for real money. And while you can’t buy this currency, there are four ways to get it for free.
First off, as you can see from the list above, signing up for a new account with a sweepstakes casino will get you a little bit of free Sweeps to get you started.
You can also write a letter to a site, and if you ask for some, the site will give you a small amount for free. Look around on the sweepstakes casino website for the address, and make sure you sign up for an account and send your account details. That way the casino will know where to put the free sweeps.
The third way is to win some through a contest on social media. These are always free to enter and easy enough to win, so follow your favorite online sweepstakes casinos on social media to keep abreast of when they’re happening.
Finally, you’ll get free Sweeps when you buy the sweepstakes casino’s other no-cash-value virtual currency. You also may be able to benefit from a special offer on a purchase, so log in to your account regularly to see what the casinos are doing.
Chumba has 70-plus slots, including these five popular ones:
LuckyLand has 30-plus slots, including these five:
Funzpoints has 20-plus slots, including these five:
The list of casino and video poker games available at sweepstakes casinos is relatively small. However, classics like blackjack, roulette, Jacks or Better and keno are there. You can also expect sweepstakes casino developers to add more casino games going forward.
The only poker site accepting Iowa players is Global Poker. It’s available for most other states (all except Washington state). Simply sign up for an account and you’re in the game. Buy Gold Coins, get free Sweeps Coins, enter peer-to-peer ring games and tournaments with either, and redeem any Sweeps Coins winnings for cash prizes.
The site offers No Limit Texas Hold’em, Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha ring games. The tables are six-max and nine-handed. The stakes, in Sweeps Coins, are 0.02/0.04 to 10/20.
Global Poker has No-Limit Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha sit and go tournaments.
The NLH sit and gos are six- to 27-player turbos and hyper-turbos. Buy-ins in Sweeps Coins are from 0.5 plus 0.05 to 200 plus 18. The Pot Limit Omaha sit and go’s are six-max only. Sweeps Coin buy-ins are from 1 plus 0.1 to 6 plus 0.6.
There are daily and weekly No-Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha and Limit Omaha multi-table tournaments. Buy-ins are from 0.11 to 218 in Sweeps Coins.
The biggest include Global Poker’s Sunday Scrimmage. It features a 218 Sweeps Coin buy-in and a guaranteed prize pool of 50,000 Sweeps Coins. There’s also the Sunday Teaser with a 110 Sweeps Coin buy-in and 20,000 Sweeps Coin guaranteed prize pool.
There also are satellites available for most weekly tournaments.
Finally, there are a variety of seasonal multi-table tournament series events. These feature the largest guaranteed prize pools on Global and include the Global Poker Bounty Series, Global Poker Championship Series and Global Poker Summer Series.