The latest development in online poker is the sweepstakes model. And it ties in with the social casinos movement to make online gaming more available and convenient for all players, especially those in limited markets. To give players alternatives to offshore poker sites and igaming networks, we have highlighted some of the most popular and exciting sites in today’s market.
A sweepstakes poker site is one that offers an alternative way to play poker. It offers free-play poker, wherein players compete for a site-issued play-money currency. In addition, players can earn a more valuable currency on those sites, and those can be exchanged for prizes with cash value.
By definition, a sweepstake is a contest wherein participants can win prizes. The bottom line is that players can win random prizes at random.
A sweepstakes poker site or online casino site serves the same purpose. Players can participate for free, with no requirement to buy anything in order to win some prizes. It just so happens that some of those prizes are coins that can be used to play special games, ones that do award cash prizes to the top players.
A social casino or social gambling site is one established for fun. It requires no real money to play poker but provides chips or coins with which to play for free.
The goal at every step of playing on a social casino site is to have fun. It should be an enjoyable experience, one with good-natured competition and the excitement of playing games. It can be done on a desktop computer, laptop or tablet, or any type of smartphone. Social casinos are usually available in the form of poker apps or easily accessible through a web browser, so they don’t require a significant time or effort dedication.
Many players use social casinos and free poker sites just for fun, either to play in their free time or to even compete against friends in a no-pressure environment.
The advent and advancement of sweepstakes poker sites and casinos and the social gaming phenomenon have led to multi-faceted igaming options. Social casinos sometimes provide the opportunity to win or purchase extra chips or coins with which to play more games, and sweepstakes websites often do the same. This allows the sites to operate on the same platform and provide players with more choices.
Let’s look at the top sites in the market today and what they offer to their players.
The most popular in the list of top social online poker sites is WSOP.com, operated by the World Series of Poker under the Caesars Entertainment parent company.
Many poker players know the WSOP poker app as a place for players in some parts of the United States to compete in real-money cash games and online poker tournaments for money, as well as for WSOP Circuit rings and World Series of Poker gold bracelets. It is also a source of satellites for players to win their way to the WSOP in Las Vegas. The site has many promotions and good-value tournaments.
The WSOP site has its limitations, though, as it is only licensed to operate for real-money poker in Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, as well as the Canadian province of Ontario. Players must be located within those states to deposit and withdraw money and play in those games.
What many people don’t know is that the WSOP also has a free-play social poker app called WSOP Poker Texas Holde'm Game, offered by Playtika. It first appeared in app stores in November 2013.
It is available in Google Play and Apple Store app catalogs, and the download is free.
Some of the features of the free-play social poker app are:
The site does offer free-play slots and other games, some unique to the WSOP site. There are in-app purchases available and range from $0.99 to $399.99, but players do not need to purchase anything to play.
As one would expect from the WSOP app, the poker instruction that is available on the WSOP.com poker site is also available to social casino players.
This is the site that has made sweepstakes poker popular among players across America. Global Poker has demonstrated the possibilities of sweepstakes online poker and created a massive community with competitive players but fun games that reward players with real cash prizes.
Global Poker is the prime example of a poker site that operates via the sweepstakes model. Its basis is a play-money poker site, which allows all players to establish a free account with free virtual chips called Gold Coins. These are good for cash game and tournament play, all free and a perfect way to practice those poker skills or just play for fun. Users can also use Gold Coins for things like avatars and other perks.
Playing in the free games helps players earn free sweepstakes prizes called Sweeps Coins. Players can also purchase Gold Coins that come with free Sweeps Coins. There are also ways to obtain Sweeps Coins through Facebook and other social media outlets that offer giveaways, as well as via US mail and through affiliate site offers. The Sweeps Coins can be used to compete in ring games and tournaments on another level from the Gold Coin games.
The goal is to accumulate enough Sweeps Coins to trade them for cash prizes or gift cards. Players can then obtain their cash or gift cards via a variety of methods, including a transfer to a bank account or Skrill ewallet account or an emailed gift card.
Some of the perks of playing at Global Poker include:
The best part of Global Poker is that its use of the sweepstakes model makes it one of the few poker sites legal in 49 of the 50 American states. Players need not fear any government interference, and their funds are protected in ways that offshore sites cannot guarantee.
When GGPoker entered the online poker realm in 2014, it focused on the Asia-Pacific market. But several years later, the company obtained a license in the UK and then expanded to more of the world, from Europe to Canada and South America. And by signing Daniel Negreanu as its primary ambassador, GGPoker grew its player base exponentially. It is now the world’s largest online poker website.
The problem for American players, however, was that they were unable to access GGPoker. In an effort to avoid issues with the US government, GGPoker blocked US players.
When GGPoker partnered with the World Series of Poker, running satellites for the WSOP in Las Vegas, for example, the site’s ownership wanted to extend some of those opportunities to American players. Thus, they created ClubGG, a subscription-based online poker site. Players simply paid a monthly fee to play on the special members-only website, and they had the opportunity to win WSOP tournament entries and real-money cash and prizes.
ClubGG often calls itself a social poker site, as it is geared toward recreational players. With a subscription cost to enter, there are no “stakes” or “buy-in levels” offered on typical poker sites. Because of that, the social aspect of the game took center stage. Players have the extra benefit of being able to create their own ring games and tournaments, set to their own preferences and for the purpose of playing with friends – a home game online, essentially.
The personalization aspect of ClubGG is one of many benefits of its membership:
Players in often-restricted markets, like many parts of the United States, can access many GGPoker perks and win their way to live poker tournaments. The satellite system and the ability to create home games with friends and family are the biggest draws for players in the membership program.
It also goes without saying – but we will say it – that a membership fee limits the amount a player can wager in a month. Unlike other poker sites that encourage account reloads and additional deposits, there is one set fee per month at GGPoker. Period.
Just like Global Poker is a sweepstakes-modeled poker site, Chumba Casino is a sweepstakes online casino. In fact, the sites are owned and operated by the same company, VGW Games Limited.
Chumba Casino is, at its core, a social online casino, one that offers casino-style games for play-money action. There is no cost to establish an account or play any of the games. In fact, there are hundreds of games, from video poker to blackjack, from jackpot slots to roulette, and more.
More than one million players have joined Chumba Casino thus far, and its player base continues to grow. This offers better table games and more of a casino community online. The company initially focused on the US market but expanded to Canada and will soon include many more countries around the world.
In much the same way as Global Poker operates, Chumba Casino gives all new players free Gold Coins with which to play. There are also special bonus codes for extra Gold Coins, and players can purchase even more at very affordable prices.
Players receive some Sweeps Coins as a bonus for joining the site, and they earn more Sweeps Coins through regular site play. As they accumulate these Sweeps Coins, they can compile them to exchange for cash prizes and gift cards. Those can be transferred to players via traditional bank transfers or mailed gift certificates. There is a minimum number of Sweeps Coins necessary for any purchase, but regular players regularly surpass that minimum.
Benefits to joining Chumba Casino include:
As with other casino and poker sites of this nature, Chumba Casino is legal in most American states and is in no danger of negative regulatory restrictions. Sweepstakes games are common in all forms of businesses and entertainment, which makes it a nationally accepted game of chance and fun.
As the trend of sweepstakes gaming grows, new casinos enter the space. Pulsz Casino is one of those websites, run by Yellow Social Interactive and offered to US and UK players. It is a free-play social casino that also operates on the sweepstakes model with Gold Coins and Sweeps Coins.
What makes Pulsz Casino unique is that it focuses primarily on Las Vegas-style slot games. In fact, the site currently boasts of more than 650 games and continually adds more. There are jackpot slots and the trendiest slot games available in today’s land-based casinos, such as Megaways, Hold and Win, and jackpot slots.
For simply signing up for a new account, players will receive 5,000 free Gold Coins. They can add to that via social media promotions and giveaways, competitions, and daily logins. Players looking to accumulate Sweeps Coins (also called Sweepstakes Coins or SC) can purchase them via discounted offers, though some players never make a purchase but play daily on the site.
When players accumulate Sweeps Coins, they can stack them up until they possess enough to exchange for cash prizes or gift cards. Those can be withdrawn or transferred via normal payment processing methods, such as bank transfers or ewallet transfers. Those requesting gift cards will receive those via email immediately upon ID verification.
There are many benefits to playing on Pulsz, including:
United States players enjoy the ease of playing on Pulsz Casino, as there is a download for mobile players but also easy access via any web browser. There is also no worry about government interference, as sweepstakes games are legal in every state in which Pulsz operates.
Along the same lines as previously-mentioned social casinos, McLuck Casino also operates as a free-play casino site operating on the sweepstakes model. The theme is luck, as exemplified by the four-leaf clover logo. The company is a relatively new one, as is the casino run by B2Service, but it is gaining ground among slots players.
In what is becoming an industry standard for sweepstakes-based gambling sites, McLuck uses the Gold Coins system of free-play coins, the currency used on the site for players. While there is no dollar value assigned to Gold Coins, it is a way for players to gauge their own successes and earn even more coins.
The ultimate goal is to earn Sweepstakes Coins through regular play, promotions, and bonuses. Of course, players can buy Sweepstakes Coins through special offers, and those coins can very well translate into redeemable coins. Players who compete seriously in the igaming world can earn and accumulate enough SC to exchange them for gift cards or cash prizes, both of which are payable by McLuck Casino.
While McLuck is still building its player base, there are perks to playing on this up-and-coming site:
This social casino is aimed at the United States market, as it is the one with the fewest online gambling options. However, it is growing and will likely include more territories and countries in the coming months and years.
Virtual Gaming Worlds, which delivered Global Poker and Chumba Casino as sites that revolutionized the social casino and sweepstakes poker gaming spheres, now includes LuckyLand Casino in its portfolio. The theme for this casino is luck, complete with a Lucky Duck mascot. Who doesn’t want to be a winning player, one of the Lucky Ducks?
As with its other sites, VGW created LuckyLand Casino as a social casino, a free-to-play online gambling home for players with a love of slots games. The site is dotted with images of Las Vegas-style casinos and big-city neon lights, but the casino requires no money to play and compete, unlike Vegas casinos.
LuckyLand Casino is a fun theme that echoes throughout the site and its pages. Players earn Gold Coins (GC) just for signing up and logging on, and there are extra coins available through social media contests and various promotions. It is the Sweeps Coins earned that make the difference, however, as they can be exchanged for real-money prizes and gift cards. There is a minimum of 50 Sweepstakes Coins needed to cash out, but serious slots players do this regularly.
The site is still building its player base, but there are already quite a few unique factors that attract new players:
Of course, players can purchase extra coins to play more often or at higher stakes, and special offers make this a very affordable entertainment expense.