Comparing contests and sweepstakes – let’s find out what the differences are
So exactly what does sweepstake mean? Often referred to as ‘giveaways’, contests and sweepstakes are both forms of promotion frequently employed by businesses to increase product awareness and of course, encourage purchases. It is fairly easy to confuse the two concepts, but there are subtle differences between them.
What is a contest?
A contest is a skill-based promotion, where winners are determined on merit. The skill element could be something like writing a one-liner, choosing a name, or posting a photo.
What is a sweepstake?
A sweepstake is a purely luck-based promotion, where winners are chosen entirely at random from all entrants.
With that out of the way, we will continue by telling you some things you need to know about and how sweepstake online gambling operates within the bounds of US laws.
Checklist – things you need to know about sweepstakes gambling
If you are considering entering a prize sweepstake or signing up with a site that offers sweepstakes online gambling, you should be aware that US law states categorically that the provider abides by the No Purchase Necessary law. If you are asked for any form of payment to enter, the promotion or site is not legit.
There are several other legal prerequisites that also determine how a sweepstake should operate and which must be included in a set of publicly available rules for each sweepstake:
- Provision of an alternative means of entry e.g. by mail
- The start and end dates of the sweepstake must be declared
- Disclosure of how winners will be selected
- Confirmation of when prizes will be awarded and distributed
- How the winners will be contacted
- Ensure the prizes promised are available and provide a list of winners
In the US, the legal age for sweepstakes gambling is 18, rather than the usual 21+ requirement for playing in a real money casino. However, a few individual states still insist on players being 21 or over, so always check this out before signing up to avoid disappointment.
Sweepstake gambling is legal in every US state, with the exception of Washington. The reason being that in 2018, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared that virtual chips used by sweepstakes online gambling sites met their definition of a “thing of value” because they can be purchased using real money
Editor’s recommendation – The top US sweepstakes gambling provider
During our research, it became abundantly clear that there is one operator that has all bases covered in the sweepstakes gambling province and that is Virtual Gaming World (VGW). Founded in 2010, VGW holds a license with the Malta Gaming Authority and operates a total of four online sweepstake gambling sites:
- Chumba Casino – launched 2012: variety of casino games
- Global Poker – launched 2016: sweepstakes poker
- LuckyLand – launched 2019: slots only
- FendOff – launched 2019: sports betting
VGW has applied to patent its unique business model, which is fully compliant with all legal requirements relating to sweepstakes online gambling in the US, so you can be assured that all of these sites are safe to use and legitimate.
Top US casino providers
How our experts test operators – Defining our sweepstake gambling experience
The first thing we do is to check out any bonuses the operator has on offer so that we can let you know if they will be valuable to you.
Then we take an overall view of the website to assess if it is in keeping with the content and ensure that it is easy to navigate, reasonably fast-loading, and implements appropriate SSL page encryption.
We then move on to payments, what funding sources you can use, and any restrictions that may be in place. At this point, we also refer to the operator’s terms and conditions to ensure that there are no hidden rules you need to know about.
The next two sections we cover are especially important to you as we examine and test the customer support options available and investigate whether the operator is legitimately licensed and is known to perform well under regulations.
We also check to see if the operator has any additional features, such as a loyalty points system that will give added value to your sweepstake gambling experience.
Lastly, we provide a quick recap covering all of the most important aspects of the operation, together with our own recommendations and overall opinion of the operator.
Finding the right operator for you – the sweepstakes gambling sites we have reviewed
We examined and reviewed three sweepstakes online gambling sites in total, two of which are a part of the VGW group with the third being a standalone operation that works to a different business model of sweepstake gambling.
Chumba is the perfect example of a sweepstake casino, with all the usual games available and you can play every one of them completely free. You can read our full Chumba Casino review but in the meantime here are the highlights:
- Licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority via its parent company VGW
- Legal in every US state except Washington for sweepstakes gambling
- Works on a unique business model specific to sweepstakes online gambling only
- Valuable free ‘Welcome’ package available for all new recruits
- A great mix of classic casino games and slots to suit all players
- Customer service is available to players 24/7 via a web form
Another VGW sweepstakes gambling site that is destined to become a firm favorite with slots fans. No doubt you will want to explore our extensive LuckyLand Slots review but in the interim, here is a taster for you:
- Operates under Virtual Gaming World’s Malta Gaming Authority license
- Regulated to offer sweepstake gambling in all US states except Washington
- Super-fast sign-up and fantastic new customer bonus opportunity
- Play slots entirely free of charge using LuckyLand’s ‘gold coins’ and ‘sweeps coins’
- Six big jackpot slots on offer and you can win cash prizes
- Experienced customer support team available 24/7
A sweepstake gambling provider with a different business model based on a social media rewards program. Our Gambino Slots review makes interesting reading and here are some of the main points of interest:
- No license, but can legally offer sweepstakes online gambling in 49 US states
- VIP Club with nine levels of rewards to achieve
- Extra rewards and bonuses available for Facebook users
- 80+ different slots available, including jackpot games
- Multiple payment options to purchase additional virtual currency
- Customer support available via email or web form
Best US bonuses
Conclusion – you can experience sweepstakes gambling completely free
As you can see, the experience of sweepstakes online gambling is radically different from any other type of gambling and the fact that it is permitted in almost every US state where other forms of gambling are illegal is a huge plus-point.
It is possible to gamble on sports or play casino games, slots, and poker entirely free of charge using virtual currencies only and although you can top up your virtual account by purchasing additional tokens, there is no requirement to do so.
We found exploring the world of sweepstakes gambling huge fun and we are sure that you will enjoy it just as much as we did.
Sweepstake gambling FAQs
✅ Is sweepstakes online gambling legal?
There are different and very specific US laws that apply to sweepstake gambling. You can find out everything you need to know and read some of our in-depth trusted operator reviews by heading to LVH.
🌍 Why is Washington state excluded from sweepstakes gambling?
In the US, laws related to any type of gambling, including sweepstakes, are determined by individual states. For a detailed explanation of why Washington is different from the rest of the US, check out our valuable guide to sweepstakes online gambling.
💰 If I play for free, how can I win money?
There are several unique business models that sweepstake gambling operators use to make this possible. To find out how they work and which sites are worth trying out, head over to LVH and read our sweepstake reviews, you won’t be disappointed.