Guide to Social Casino Gaming Online (2020)

Social gaming online: how you can play free online casino games but with some kind of stake. Regardless of whether you’re a novice or a pro, it’s a fun way to enjoy slots and table games without any financial pressures. In this guide to social slots and table games, we’re shining a light on what to expect from the top social gaming sites. We’re also giving you some tips on where to play and how to get the most from your time online. So, if you’re ready to get social, let’s go…

Our Recommended Social Gaming Sites

We’re experts in all aspects of gaming - from real-money casinos to their free-play counterparts. The list below features some of our top slots social casino choices because they’re legal, fair and offer a great overall package. To see what each one has to offer, read our balanced reviews. Then hit PLAY HERE - the secure sign-up link to create your first accounts.

What is Social Gaming?

Social gaming online is the act of playing casino games for free via your desktop or mobile. Of course, the industry is a little bit more nuanced than that. However, in the interests of fixing a definition and building a base, social casino gaming sites are, in essence, free-play platforms.

Now, it’s important not to confuse these sites with their real-money counterparts. Yes, the latter offer free casino games. However, that’s not their main selling point. What’s more, real-money online casinos, such as LeoVegas and 888, are licensed to offer cash prizes. This means they’re required to clear a series of regulatory hurdles that social gaming sites aren’t.

Social Gaming Online or Social Casino Gaming

That’s not to say free-play casinos aren’t legal, licensed and regulated. They are. However, there are some additional hoops real-money casinos online have to jump through in order to receive a license. In fact, by drawing this distinction, it leads us into some of the former’s finer points.

Even though you can play slots and table games for free, that’s not the end of the story. We’ll unpack this later in our “what is social gaming” guide. However, for now, just know that it’s a free-play, fun way to enjoy slots, blackjack, roulette and more via your desktop or mobile.

How Sweep Coins and Gold Coins Work

Normally, you deposit money and play games, and if you win, you can redeem the winnings. But not in a social games casino. You have the option to purchase Gold Coins as credits that you can play with. This isn’t compulsory - because when you join, you’ll receive free credits anyway. And there are often ways to get extra credits, like replenishing your bankroll every so many hours. However, buying them through PayPal, for example, is the fastest way. 

Those Gold Coins cannot be transferred, traded or redeemed for cash prizes at all - they’re essentially play money. However, here’s the loophole to winning and cashing out for real. The casino you choose will offer packages of both Gold Coins (which you purchase) and “bonus” coins - often called “Sweep Coins”. 

Gambino Slots Casino Gambino Free G-Coins

These packages will cost varying amounts and contain a certain amount of both types of coins. Any winnings players earn when playing Sweep Coin Games can be redeemed for real money. Because technically, you don’t buy Sweeps - they are a bonus. That’s right. Since players don’t actually purchase Sweep Coins for real money (just a bonus when buying Gold Coins) it’s not technically an Online Casino. So social games casinos are available all over the world, including the US- because they’re considered a sweepstakes. 

To buy a package, you choose one of the secure payment options, make your selection and complete the transaction. The credits will then be added to your balance and instantly available. You can use both Gold Coins and Sweep Coins to play the games - however, in themselves, they have no real value. In effect, you can only use them on the casino site. 

Advantages of Social Gaming Online

Social games online are worth billions. As well as sites that offer nothing but free slots, you’ve got major networks like Facebook and Zynga providing unique gaming experiences. This proliferation of casual casino sites has caused revenue to soar. Something of this size must be doing something right, so let’s unpack the advantages.

1. Fun and Free

The best reason to try playing social slots and table games is the fact they’re free. Although there are ways you can pay to play (see: Gold Coins and Sweeps above), it’s not a requirement. When you join, you can try hundreds of games for fun - with no financial obligations. So, you can just focus on enjoying yourself.

2. Fair and Legal

Every social slot casino we recommend will be 100% legal. Just because you’re not playing for cash prizes, that doesn’t mean a site can ignore local laws and regulations. All legit social sites must offer fair games and operate just as responsibly as real-money casinos

3. Slick and Accessible

The top social games will be available on all devices. When you look at the stats, most of the money generated by these sites comes from mobile users. By 2022, Statista’s data shows that mobile revenue will outpace desktop revenue by more than 5:1. This means you can enjoy a slick experience on any device at any time.

4. Improving and Evolving

The final advantage is that these sites are constantly improving and evolving, just like their real-money counterparts. These sites aren’t rudimentary or subordinate to cash-play casinos. Social gaming developers are just as skilled and dedicated. In some instances, they may be even more dedicated because it’s a tough market.

So, don’t assume that just because the games are free that the experience is going to be inferior because it’s not. Social online gaming sites will feature the latest digital tech and there will be a steady stream of updates, improvements, and new games.

Disadvantages of Social Gambling

Social gambling sites are great, but they’re not for everyone. To help you decide whether to try a free-play platform or head to our recommended live casinos, here are some points to consider.

1. You Can’t Cashout - not exactly anyway

If you want to win cash prizes and withdraw them at will, you need a real-money online casino. The best social games are fantastic, but they don’t allow you to win anything tangible. So, to play for money you can cashout and spend, check out our top online picks like Ladbrokes Casino.

2. Not a Full Suite of Games

Social slot machines dominate this part of the industry. There are table games such as blackjack, video poker and roulette. There will also be a selection of social-specific options such as scratchers and arcade-style games. However, even some of the best live social casino sites like Chumba won’t have the same array of games as a cash-play platform.

3. Bonuses Might be Sparse

Because you’re not playing for cash prizes, there may not be as many promotions at social gambling sites. There will be some. However, if you want a variety of ways to boost your bankroll, you may be better off checking out our top real-money casino bonus sites.

What About Live Social Casino Gaming?

Live social gaming takes what real-money sites popularized and makes it free. Since 2010, live dealer games have, in many ways, surpassed their digital counterparts in terms of innovations, immersion and entertainment. That’s not to say digital casino games are bad. They’re not.

However, live casinos offer something their counterparts can’t because they feature real dealers. If you check out our top-rated live casinos, you’ll see that each one offers an array of games. From blackjack and roulette to baccarat and novel options like Dream Catcher, these games use live streams to create a realistic experience.   

So, instead of playing blackjack against an invisible digital dealer, you can watch a real person deal and turn the cards. That makes live games more immersive and engaging. In recent years, social casino gaming sites have jumped on the bandwagon and utilized this technology. That’s significant because, before the advent of live social casino games, these options were only available for real money.

Because live dealer games have extra costs associated with them (i.e. hiring dealers etc.), it’s not always viable to offer free-play options in the same way as digital games. However, thanks to the way casual casino sites are structured, live games can be offered for free. This means you can connect with real dealers and enjoy the sights and sounds for free.

Social Slots: Why You Should Get Spinning

In terms of popularity, slots sit alongside live social casino games at the top of the tree. Just as it is in the real-money gaming world, slots are the most abundant option at all the top social online casinos. For example, if you visit LuckyLand, you’ll find an array of slots, each with a different theme.

Something that’s unique about social slot casinos is that they sometimes feature locked games. When you first log in, you’ll be given an initial selection of options. Then, to access new ones, you’ll have to hit certain targets. This dynamic creates a sense of progression and engagement which, in turn, makes it even sweeter when you unlock a new game.

Chumba - Social Slots

Other than this, playing slot machines is virtually identical to spinning real-money hits. Again, you won’t be playing for cash prizes. However, you can win free-play credits that can be used on the site. So, if we take one of the top free-play slots at LuckyLand, Neon Valley, you’ll be playing for fixed prizes and progressive jackpots. There are five reels and 30 paylines, and the minimum bet is 3,000 gold coins. Emblazoned on the reels is a selection of neon Wild West symbols, including horseshoes, cowboys, and wild horses.

Your job is to match three or more symbols to win prizes. Sheriff’s badges will trigger free spins and there’s a bonus game that allows you to win progressive jackpots. Basically, all the features you’d expect from a real-money online slot are available in Neon Valley.

Social Casinos vs. Online Casinos

It’s probably clear to you by now but it’s a point worth repeating: “social gaming online doesn’t involve real money prizes.” Even though you can purchase credits or Gold Coins, these tokens don’t have any real-world value and, thus, can’t be withdrawn. However, if you purchase a package of Gold Coins, you’ll also get bonus coins called Sweeps. If you win while playing Sweep Coin games, you can actually redeem these using your payment method.

Therefore, the major distinction between casino gaming sites and their real-money counterparts is the fact you can’t win cash prizes in the typical way. Other than this, everything else is pretty much the same. There are some nuances to social ones such as time-released free credits and locked games. It’s also true that social slots casino sites are more popular on mobile.

The best social games are just as vibrant, fair, and entertaining as those offering cash prizes. You may also find certain games on a social site that won’t be available at an online casino. 

The other benefit to free-play casinos is that they’re legal in places where real-money sites aren’t. Although local laws may still apply, you can play free slots and table games in places where cash gambling is illegal. That’s particularly important if you live in the US. It’s always worth checking out the rules in your location. However, on the whole, social games are legal almost anywhere.

Social Gaming Online FAQs

  • Can you play on social casinos in the USA?

    Yes. Certain US laws outlaw the processing of funds by a gaming site. This technically means the act of betting online isn’t legal. Instead, depositing and withdrawing is. Various states have changed these rules in recent years, but they still apply in other parts of the US. Social gaming sites don’t contravene these laws because you don’t make deposits or play for cash prizes.
  • Are social casinos illegal?

    No. Because you’re not risking any money, there’s almost no difference between them and video gaming sites - legally at least. You’re playing games for fun and that’s not illegal.
  • What is a social casino?

    A social online casino is a site that allows you to play slots and table games for free via your desktop or mobile device. You can’t win real-money and credits through the credits or Gold Coins you purchase. However, social gambling sites allow you to redeem winnings won while playing with their bonus or sweep coins.
  • Is playing at a social casino considered gambling?

    Technically, no - or not in the traditional sense. Gambling can be defined as risking something on an uncertain event. But there’s no real money involved in social gaming, you’re just risking virtual credits which you purchase. However, you can’t withdraw the coins you purchase. You can only redeem winnings you earn while playing with bonus / sweep coins that the site gives you. Perhaps through loyalty rewards or a sign up package.