Slots Explained: What are Sweepstakes?

What are Sweepstakes

Last updated on March 20th, 2024 at 01:46 am

You may have heard of a new type of game in your online casino ventures – sweepstakes slots. If you have never used a sweepstakes casino or social casino before, the term may be alien to you, but don’t worry – we’re here to explain everything there is to know about sweepstakes slots and how they differ to regular slots.

The premise is simple – sweepstakes slots use virtual currencies compared to the real-money gameplay of regular slots. Sweepstakes slots are also used differently and feature solely at sweepstakes casinos and social casinos. Below, we delve into this subject in greater detail and explain how they work.

Sweepstakes slots vs regular slots – a feature-by-feature comparison

To give you a clear idea of how these games differ, let’s look at a feature-by-feature comparison, including themes, gameplay, currencies, and bonus features. We will then explain exactly how sweepstakes slots are used online.


What makes slots so attractive is the amazing themes that software developers incorporate into the games. One moment, you can play a game that takes you to ancient Egypt to discover the secrets of the pharaoh’s tombs, and the next, be transported to the African savannah to come face to face with wild animals.

Sweepstakes slots share this amazing thematic variety, and there are hundreds of different slots – as with their real-money counterparts – all of which have different themes. Popular examples include mythology, wild animals, the Wild West, sports, TV and film, and retro fruit machines.

Essentially, whatever themes you can find in regular slots, sweepstakes slots have them, too, so there is endless fun to be had.


The core gameplay mechanics of sweepstakes slots are the same as regular slots. Most sweepstakes slots use a traditional reel layout with a 5×3 grid and have a standard pay table featuring both low and high-paying symbols.

Winning combinations are triggered when you get concurrent symbols, such as three in a row or three of the same symbol. These slots also utilize special symbols commonly found in regular slots, like wilds, scatter symbols, and bonus symbols. You will also find bet multipliers, sticky wilds, and special reel types like cascading reels, where winning symbols disappear to reveal more symbols for potentially epic win combos.

Indeed, some software developers such as Pragmatic Play have created both sweepstakes and real-money versions of its games, and the only difference, as you’ll see below, is the currency.


The only major difference between sweepstakes slots and regular slots is the currency used to spin the reels.

Sweepstakes slots use virtual currency, and there is no real money gameplay. The currency is usually something like gold coins, which don’t have a monetary value. Premium virtual currencies such as sweep coins can also be used – these can be redeemed for real-money prizes depending on the individual sweepstakes casino.

In contrast, regular slots use real-money gameplay, and each spin costs USD or EUR, for example. So, with a sweepstakes slot, each spin might cost 100 gold coins, whereas regular slots might cost $0.25 per spin. 

With sweepstakes slots, the payouts are in virtual currency, too, whereas regular slots give payouts in the same currency you used to spin the reels. As stated above, some developers create two versions of the same slots – one for sweepstakes casinos and one for regular casinos, with the only difference being the currency used.

Bonus features

Most slot games have bonus features and games where you can win free spins and rack up huge winning combinations. This remains the same for both sweepstakes slots and regular slots.

Typically, a paytable of a sweepstakes slot has a bonus symbol, and if you get three or more bonus symbols, a special bonus round is triggered. Oftentimes, this bonus round gives you a set number of free spins, and some games even allow you to pick from a range of free spin bonuses with different bet multipliers.

The bonus game then starts, and this might involve a different slot reel with new symbols and enhanced bonus features like sticky wilds. Usually, there is also the chance to trigger additional free spins during the bonus games so that you can get some amazing winning combos. To reiterate, both sweepstakes slots and regular slots have bonus rounds in varying forms.

How sweepstakes slots are used at sweepstakes casinos

So, we have established that the currency used is the main difference between sweepstakes slots and regular slots. But how does that translate to the underlying platform?

Well, sweepstakes slots are used at sweepstakes casinos and social casinos. Instead of real money, these platforms operate with two virtual currencies. The first is usually gold coins, and this is what people use to play the sweepstakes slots. They have no monetary value, and you can accumulate gold coins for free via a sign-up bonus, daily login reward, and playing the games.

The second currency is usually called sweeps coins, and this is a premium currency obtained via social media contests, as a bonus with gold coin purchases, and even via postal order. Some sweepstakes slots allow sweep coins to be used, but either way, these can be redeemed for real-money prizes.

The sweep coins are a major part of a sweepstakes casino’s digital marketing approach, as they are the only way you can win real money on these platforms.

Sweepstakes casinos must provide a free-play option to comply with US sweepstakes laws, and this is why sweepstakes slots use gold coins as their primary currency as opposed to USD.

Sweepstakes slots – a refreshing free-play alternative to real-money games

Hopefully, you now have a clear understanding of the difference between sweepstakes slots and regular slots. Essentially, the main difference is the currency used, and where regular slots use real money like USD or CAD, sweepstakes slots use virtual currencies like gold coins or sweeps coins.

The other major difference is the underlying platforms that the games are hosted on. Sweepstakes slots are exclusive to sweepstakes casinos and social casinos that offer free play via virtual currencies. In contrast, regular slots are used at real-money casinos where you have to deposit money to play.

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