Anyone wanting to indulge in a few casino games in the Golden State certainly has options – but they all involve travel, as online casinos in California aren’t legal right now.
But you’re here at TheGruelingTruth.com, and if there’s one thing we know about, it’s betting – particularly online wagering. So get ready to discover an entertainment-filled world of possibilities, thanks to California social and sweepstakes casinos.
We’re not deliberately trying to be awkward here, but the answer to that question is No and Yes, which clearly requires further explanation.
No, there aren’t any legal real-money online casinos in California, no matter what some operators might claim. And you can trust on this, because we’ve made it our mission to dig deep into the laws of every state across the US, and to keep our information constantly updated.
Here’s the thing – unless an online casino is legally approved, licensed and regulated by the state of California then it isn’t operating legally, period. That means there’s no comeback if you find you can’t access your winnings for some reason, or you hit some other problem. Dodging the laws might not get you prosecuted, but you could end up paying a high financial price, so it’s something we’d never recommend.
Yes there are plenty of legal online casinos in California, but you won’t be playing with real money. And before you shut down in complete disinterest, allow us to explain – some of these California social casinos are almost indistinguishable from their real-money counterparts.
In fact, whatever your tastes in online games, social and sweepstakes operators are almost certain to have it covered. You can put an emphasis on fun gameplay and chat with friends. Or you can adopt more of a high roller approach, with a slick and sophisticated online experience that you won’t believe is completely free.
And that’s before we mention the real-life prizes that can be won. Yes, you read that right – these are free to play social casino sites, some of which have the ability to distribute tangible rewards. We’re talking about gift cards, merchandise and even cash, and it won’t cost so much as a single cent!
Both these types of free-to-play casinos are usually referred to as social casinos as an umbrella term, but it’s essential to understand the difference. That particularly applies if you’re hoping to walk away with any real world prizes, so take your time deciding which option is best for you.
Unless you’ve visited one of the top US social casinos recently, you have no idea what you’re missing. Some of the more commonly marketed sites often consist of a handful of games that have to be unlocked one by one, with few bonus features and nothing much to keep players coming back.
But that’s most definitely not the case with our carefully hand-picked collection of social casino operators. The themes may range from fun to serious, but the quality of the games and the integrity of each operator has been checked, double-checked and verified by our experts at TheGruelingTruth.com.
At all of these social casino sites you’ll be able to spin up slots, usually play a few table games, and you can sometimes even access live dealer games too. The only thing that’s missing is the cash payouts for any wins you land. All of the games are free to play, and no purchase is ever necessary.
Think of sweepstake casinos as being a subset of social casinos. But they have one huge difference, and that’s the ability to pay our real rewards and prizes. Once again though, all the games are free – in fact, it’s a condition of operating a sweepstake casino that the tokens can’t be purchased, as we’ll explain in the next section.
The first thing you need to do is decide which social casino you’d like to join, and that’s something we’re here to help you with. We’ll go into a little more depth about finding your perfect operator in a bit, but first we need to explain how the gameplay works – after all, your bankroll won’t be involved, and that can be a difficult concept to get your head around – especially when there are prizes to be won.
Real money doesn’t get a look-in at any social casinos, so the operators have come up with virtual tokens that they usually refer to as Gold Coins. It’s just a convenient name though, as they don’t exist in any tangible form. They’re not interchangeable between operators either, and you can’t transfer them to other players.
The only purpose of Gold Coins is to power the games in place of real dollars. And that’s it – they can’t be redeemed or withdrawn, and they don’t have any cash value. But you’ll still be hoping to win more of them, as that gives you access to even more games.
You can play at sweepstakes casinos in California using Gold Coins, and everything plays out exactly as it would at any other social casino. But sweepstake casino sites also offer Sweeps Coins, which are free promotional tokens. Once again, these are only virtual, so there’s nothing you can hold in your hand – yet. But once played through according to the terms of each operator, these Sweeps Coins can be redeemed for a range of prizes and real-life rewards.
Whether it’s some online casino free spins or a deposit match bonus, a well-placed introductory offer always makes players feel welcome when they sign up to a new operator. But at a social casino every spin is free and you won’t be making any deposits, so bonuses seem unlikely.
But social casino operators aim to give you the full bricks-and-mortar experience, without the financial risk. So they make sure they offer a welcome bonus too, which usually takes the form of a generous allocation of Gold Coins – and maybe a few Sweeps Coins too – to allow you to get straight down to playing.
Most operators offer additional Gold Coin bonuses when you log back into your account, when you recommend friends to sign up, or through winning tournaments and entering prize draws. You can even send out handwritten postal requests to the operator to claim a redemption code for extra Coins.
Some operators also offer reward schemes that come with enhanced bonuses, delivering even more Gold Coins into your account. For example, BetRivers.net offers Play Points, whilst Stake.us has a VIP scheme that’s open to absolutely everyone who signs up for an account.
It makes no difference whether someone is searching for the best US online casinos or the hottest new social casino in California, your search should always start with a look through our reviews. That’s because we’re all enthusiastic casino players ourselves, and we know exactly what to look out for.
Social casinos may be legal throughout the US, with sweepstakes sites legal in every state except Washington, but it’s always sensible to be cautious. When you register with a social casino you won’t need to input so many personal details as at a real-money site, because no real money is involved. But you’ll be giving away some personal info, so site security is still important.
We’re not saying we’re bound to have the exact same taste in games as you, and who wants a world in which we all think alike anyway? But what we can surely all agree on is that a social or sweepstake casino needs to take player safety seriously. There’s no licensing requirement, since money won’t be changing hands, so we perform all due diligence checks to make sure operators are fair, safe and reputable.
We don’t claim to present you with every single one of the new sweepstake casinos in the US, or any other type of online casino for that matter. Our experts here at TheGruelingTruth.com have spent hours examining the games, features and background of every social casino site available in the Golden State, but we’ve only picked out the best ones to feature on our pages.
Our standards are extremely high, so if we’re not 100% happy with what we see and experience at a social casino site, we stop the review process and make sure we don’t recommend that operator. That doesn’t mean that every site we’ve reviewed is the perfect option for you though, so you’ll still have some work to do – just not very much!
Our reviews give you a ton of useful information, making your decision-making process as easy as possible. We tell you about the site’s overall design, whether it’s mobile-optimized, what type of customer support you can expect and so on.
We also give a rundown of the games each site has available, which is an important consideration if you only like playing Pragmatic Play slots, for example, or you’ve a yearning for some free-to-play live dealer games.
Stake.us is easily one of the most exciting social casino sites in the US. You can simply sign up to Stake.us and enjoy playing over 200 online slots and table games for free. What’s best is that these include Stake Originals that feature innovative titles like Plinko, Crash, Limbo and much more.
As soon as you register your first account at Stake.us using our exclusive code: TGTSOCIAL, you will be rewarded with a welcome offer that gives you 5% rakeback on your losses. From here, you’ll find no shortage of other cool promos and giveaways. Our pick of the bunch has to be all of the races and battles that see you playing against other gamers to win lots of virtual credit.
Speaking of which, Stake.us lets you play for free using two kinds of virtual credit – Gold Coins and Stake Cash. While both can be used to play hundreds of games, if you play with Stake Cash you can enter promotional sweepstakes where you could win prizes like gift cards and cool merchandise.
Plus there’s the fact that Stake.us has forged partnerships with music icons like Drake and even top sports teams like Everton FC. All of this contributes to Stake.us being our top social casino.
Online casino gambling using real money isn’t legal in California yet, with no firm news about any upcoming changes to the regulations. Although there are a few legal murmurings, it can take months for any serious discussions to take place, so the laws are unlikely to change any time soon.soon. But as we’ve shown, that needn’t be a problem if you live in the Golden State.
Browse our selection of social and sweepstake casino sites, all of which welcome California residents with an introductory Coin bonus. All the games you could dream of are just waiting to be played, and they’re all completely free. Better still, there are real prizes to be won – who needs real-money online casinos anyway?
We probably don’t need to tell you that gambling laws in the US are determined at state level and are rather complicated to put it mildly. If you want to find out whether online casinos in California, or any other state for that matter, are legal then you need to read our state-by-state guides. Here you will find the most accurate and up-to-date information available.
Sweepstakes casinos are a valid and legal alternative for casino players in most US states. If you want to find out how the sweepstakes business model makes this a reality and find out where your state stands in legal terms, then all you need to do is head over and explore our California sweepstakes casino guides and in-depth social casino review pages.
Whilst the sweepstakes casino business model does not come under the same laws as real money casinos, there are still some very stringent regulations in place. If you want to find out if your state of residence allows social casino play and what you can (or cannot) do at these casino sites, then you need to check out our comprehensive guides and reviews first.
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