Sure, you’re aware of what regulated online casinos offer — table games, slots, live dealer games and more — and that you can play for real money to be won and lost.
But did you know there are casinos out there that deal exclusively with “play money” that can lead to you making actual cash?
The latter are known as sweepstakes casinos, and these online gambling sites offer the opportunity to enjoy social gaming with a dual-currency concept. These casinos are legal in Michigan, and you can play slots, table games and keno and more, and if you play things to your advantage you could end up cashing out to your bank account.
This page has you covered when it comes to understanding how sweepstakes casinos work. You will find out how to enter the games, enjoy bonuses and cash out your winnings.
There is also an overview of the three most popular sweepstakes casino brands.
Sweepstakes casinos operate nationally. To remain legal, they can’t directly take deposits to use to play their casino games. Instead, they allow you to enter “free” sweepstakes contests which take the form of slots and table games.
Of course, allowing free casino games with big real money prizes is not a viable business model.
What these casinos do is charge players for play-money chips (often called Gold Coins). They have no redeemable value and are only used for fun and social gaming.
Each time you buy them you get free premium chips (sometimes called Sweeps Coins, Sweeps Cash or Premium FunzPoints, depending on where you play). These can be used to play casino games. If you win, then you can exchange your sweeps cash for dollars and withdraw it to your bank.
To ban these casinos, states would need to rewrite their sweepstakes contest laws. Since these contests are used by so many businesses, this would be a major legislative effort. This means sweepstakes casinos are gaining popularity and remain legal in most states, including Michigan.
To legally run sweepstakes contests, businesses need to give people the option to enter without making a purchase. This applies to the sweepstakes casinos as well.
You can get free sweeps cash to enter the real money games by sending a hand-written letter. Each of the casinos below has a registered address and instructions for the information to send in their terms and conditions.
Chumba Casino gives away $2 worth of sweeps cash with no deposit needed. This gives you a chance to check out the games.
All of the casinos double the amount of sweeps cash for your first deposit. They also feature rewards programs and daily wheel spin bonuses which can add to your account, as well as contests on social media.
Michigan players who enjoy casino gaming can enjoy a selection of sweepstakes casino sites to try their luck at. These sites focus on slots, which are site-specific and not the same titles you will find in retail casinos. Many of them are colorful, complex and entertaining games.
Chumba Casino offers wall-to-wall casino slots, many of which feature progressive jackpots. You can see the prizes ticking upwards, and you can switch between gold coins and sweeps coins to see the difference between them.
You can get $2 in free sweeps cash without making a deposit at Chumba Casino. Your first purchase of gold coins will also get double the usual amount of sweeps cash.
The biggest games on the site are Reelin n’ Rockin, Stampede Fury and the newly added Western Gold.
Reelin n’ Rockin is set in a 1950’s style diner and has the feel of the movie Grease. The diner sign acts as the wild symbol and can give you a winning boost, while landing three or more jukebox symbols enters you into the free-spins feature. Land enough gold discs and you’ll get a chance at the Fire Shot Jackpot, where you can win the grand jackpot prize. You can also win major, minor and mini jackpot prizes too.
Within the casino are a wide variety of slot themes and game formats. There are fun, cartoon style games such as The Great Heist and Gustavo El Luchador, and epic games such as Spell of Odin and King of Gods. Players who like ancient-themed slots will enjoy Nefertiti’s Gold and Pharaoh’s Return.
As the name implies, the focus is once again on slots here. The lobby has a similar feel to Chumba Casino with slots lining the walls and the two sites have the same owner, though do not share the same games.
Luckyland Slots has more of a vibrant feel than its rivals, with lots of added action on the screen alongside the game selection. There are promotions, countdowns to bonus wins, your image on the screen (if you signed up through Facebook), level meters and an events button.
Luckyland slots will double the amount of sweeps cash awarded for your first purchase of gold coins.
Within the slot selection you will find a mix of different game types. Jackpot slots stand out due to the progressive jackpot displayed proudly above the game icon. There are also a series of 3D slots among the options.
Snow Queen in 3D is a vivid and beautifully produced game inspired by the movie Frozen and is set in a Disney-style land where snow is all around, and huge castles made of ice are in the distance. The game itself has a free-fall format, where winning symbols disappear off the reels, to be replaced by new ones from above. Land the snowman on reels one, two and three to activate the fun bonus game and land a series of wins in a row to find yourself with up to 25 free spins.
Within the game selection are other movie inspired games such as Pirate’s Bounty (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Life’s a Beach (Moana). Power of Ra and Mayan’s Gold are classic style slots, while Clover Cash in 3D is where you might find that Irish fortune awaiting.
Players can also enjoy scratch-and-win games such as Victoria’s Cash Spectacular and Dragon Key.
Funzpoints is one of the newest sweepstakes casinos to enter into the Michigan marketplace. Like Chumba Casino and Luckyland Slots, the focus is once again on slots.
The game selection is smaller than at rival sites, although new games are being added all of the time.
At Funzpoints there are dual currencies in use known as standard funzpoints and premium funzPoints, with the latter offering the ‘real money’ play.
Each time you load the site, you are offered a spin of a bonus wheel that will award you additional funzpoints, and a timer shows you that you can spin this wheel every three hours. There are no jackpot slots at this site, but there is a jackpot draw daily.
At first, only a small handful of games are open to players, with other games unlocking as you play at Funzpoints.
One of the go-to games for new players is Crude Tycoon, a slot set on the oil fields in the US. A pipeline bonus game awaits, while a pipe valve will randomly drop bonuses such as extra wilds, multipliers, or even free spins. An oil reserve bonus feature gives you more chances for free spins as well as a series of bonus picks.
In general, the range of slots is more of the “fun” variety, with cartoon-style visuals. Titles such as Barnyard Frenzy or Gold Rush Pete are amusing and character-based slots.
Aside from the slots you can also enjoy Paintball Keno, which is one of the games unlocked from the very start. This game sees you select a color and a selection of numbers and you’ll win lottery-style if your numbers come in, as the pays at the top end of the pay chart are huge.
You can play online poker at sweepstakes gambling sites, such as Global Poker.
Global Poker, which has grown into one of the bigger poker rooms welcoming US players and operates legally in almost every state, uses the same sweepstakes model as the casinos.
You can’t buy chips directly. Instead you get these free when you buy gold coins, which are for fun play only. You can get free chips by sending a letter and you can double the usual amount with your first purchase.
You will find poker cash games, tournaments and sit-and-goes at Global Poker. You can play against opponents from around the country via your browser window and there is no software to download.
Gambling laws have undergone some big changes in Michigan recently, with poker, sports betting and casino gaming now legally allowed to be played online, though the licensing process and setup of real money online casinos is ongoing.
In the meantime, sweepstakes casinos provide a safe and legal option. You can win real money online, without directly paying to play the games.
There are some significant differences between sweepstakes casinos and the regulated online casinos.
Sweepstake sites may be attractive to the type of gamer who wants to compete against friends and wants to top leaderboards. In some ways they give you the best of both worlds – you have the fun side to the site and the real money options to win cash.
The range of games at a sweepstakes site is not as large — some online casinos can offer up literally hundreds of games, while several variations of games such as roulette and blackjack are available. When the regulated casinos arrive, there will be thousands of slots, hundreds of table games and live-dealer casino rooms available.
The regulated casinos will also offer several banking methods while sweeps casinos work with bank cards only.
If you want to play online versions of the slots found in live casinos, then you’ll need to wait for the regulated casinos. While the games on offer at sweepstakes casinos are every bit as entertaining, they are not the iconic games from big producers like IGT, Aristocrat and Scientific Games.
Sweepstakes casinos treat their games like sweepstakes contests which allows them to legally award prizes, including big progressive jackpots. Sites using this model are popular around the country and are legal in Michigan, as long as the sweeps cash you use for the contests is given away for “free.”
You can check them out for free — and win real money — at sites like Chumba Casino, which gives $2 in sweeps cash for players simply for signing up.