California Online Casinos & Poker Sites

Although online gambling is fairly restrictive in the state, players have access to California sweepstakes sites to play casino games and poker. People located in California have access to all the major sweepstakes sites. This includes sweepstakes casinos, poker sites, and sportsbooks.

California currently does not offer legal online casino games, traditional poker sites, or online sports betting. But it is possible to win cash prizes through sweepstakes sites, and you can do so in similar ways to their real-money counterparts.

As recently as June 2020, talks of legalizing online sportsbooks were shot down by opposition from tribal casinos, which currently make up all casinos in the state with the exception of cardrooms. The takeaway is that legal sportsbooks may come to Native American casinos and racetracks, but won’t be available online anytime soon.

What Sweepstakes Products Can I Play In California?

Online Casino

California currently has two legal sweepstakes casinos: Chumba Casino and LuckyLand. 

Chumba shares a parent company with Global Poker, so many of its terms and conditions and other sections of the website are identical. The benefit here is that if you understand how Gold Coins (GC) versus Sweeps Coins (SC) works on one site, you understand it for the other.

However, LuckyLand also utilizes the GC and SC structure with no difference except for one: you can redeem your SC when you have 50. Chumba requires SC 100 for prize redemption.

But ultimately, Chumba is the better social casino of the two for offering twice as many slots, bigger progressive jackpots, and a few table games. LuckyLand’s most unique selling point is offering digital scratch cards. It doesn’t offer table games, though.

Online Poker

Global Poker is a sweepstakes poker site. It is also California’s only legal form of online poker that can result in cash prizes. 

While you can join offshore poker sites from the state, they are technically considered illegal. No arrests have been made against players as of yet, but you don’t want to be in the crosshairs if that suddenly changes. You also might run into some tax issues. All gambling winnings, even from offshore casinos, are taxable income. 

Global Poker is where you can play online poker in California with total peace of mind.

The site is set up just like a traditional online poker site. But to play, you buy packages of Gold Coins (GC), some of which come with Sweeps Coins (SC). The GC are used to play for fun and cannot be redeemed for a cash prize. However, you can redeem SC for cash prizes.

Online Sportsbook

FendOff is a social sportsbook that takes picks on all types of sports. You can choose moneyline, points spread, over/under, futures, and exotics. You can also do both in-game and pregame picks, and you have access to a full racebook with a pari-mutuel structure.

Just like with Chumba, LuckyLand, and Global Poker, you purchase Gold Coins (GC) to play at FendOff. Some of the GC packages include Sweeps (SW). Once you have at least SW 50, you can redeem for cash prizes.

How Are Sweepstakes Sites Different From Online Gambling Sites?

You’ll see a lot of talk about technicalities and other convoluted explanations about sweepstakes. This is particularly true when they’re directly compared to online gambling sites. But the difference is actually very straightforward.

At an online gambling site, you load money into your account. This would be like putting money in your PayPal account. You can then use that money to bet at the online gambling site.

At a sweepstakes site, you purchase the website’s currency, which is usually called “Gold Coins” (GC). The more Gold Coins you buy, the more Sweeps Coins (SW) are included in your purchase. Once you play the games (for casinos and poker sites) or make your picks (for sportsbooks) using the SC, you can redeem whatever SC is leftover for a cash prize.

Here’s a helpful table based on buying Chumba Casino’s Gold Coins:

What You PayNumber Of Gold CoinsSweeps Coins Included
$1500,000None
$51 millionSC 5.05
$104 millionNone
$205 millionSC 20.5

The numbers go on from there. If you want SC included in your purchase, make sure you buy the number of GC that corresponds with the amount of SC you want.

Can You Win Real Money At Sweepstakes Casinos And Poker Sites From California?

No, you can’t win real money at sweepstakes casinos and poker sites from California. Social gaming platforms are not set up like gambling sites, so you cannot simply deposit and cash out.

Instead, you receive Sweeps Coins (SC) that can be redeemed for a cash prize or a gift card.

Before you can redeem any sweeps coins that you’ve received, you have to play with them at least once.

At Chumba, for example, you may receive SC 1.00 just for logging in. If you use it all to play at a slot and win SC 10.00 on a spin, you can redeem that SC 10.00 for a gift card. Or you can continue to play whatever games you want with SC in the hopes of garnering SC 100. If you do, you can redeem it for a cash prize.

You can experience playing casino games and poker tables with huge amounts of Gold Coins (GC). Global Poker has GC tournaments that can pay out over GC 100 million. Chumba Casino’s progressive jackpot slots can boast top prizes over GC 2 billion.

However, you cannot redeem GC for cash prizes or gift cards. Only SW can result in prizes that apply to purchases outside of the sweepstakes site.

What Kinds Of Bonuses Do Sweepstakes Casinos And Poker Sites Offer To Players In California?

Signup Bonus

Sweepstakes casinos and other social gaming sites must allow players to win cash prizes without making a purchase. Just for creating an account, sweepstakes players receive free Gold Coins (GC) as well as Sweeps Coins (SC).

Daily Login Bonuses

Much like the initial signup bonus, you receive GC and SC just for logging in to your account. 

This can be during the first week or two after you join. But at LuckyLand, you can start a consecutive login streak that awards progressively larger bonuses each day in a row that you login.

Mail-In Sweeps

Another legal requirement for social gaming sites is the mail-in sweeps offer. To receive two or more SC, you can mail a request directly to the website. Just be sure to follow all instructions exactly to qualify.

Discount GC Packages

Once you join a sweepstakes site, you’ll receive promotional offers in your inbox. These usually include the chance to purchase GC packs that include SC for a discount. The most common discount is 50% off.

Social Media Contests

Follow the sweepstakes sites you’ve joined on their social media channels so you don’t miss out on one of these contests. All you have to do is let them know you’re participating, and you could receive a large package of GC and SC for free.

What Kinds Of Games Are Available At California’s Sweepstakes Poker Sites?

Global Poker offers many of the same games that you’d find at the most traditional online poker sites like 888, WSOP, and PokerStars. The biggest difference is the option to play in either Gold Coins (GC) or Sweeps Coins (SC).

The formats for the different types of games are Texas Hold’em, Omaha, or Crazy Pineapple. At Global Poker, all game types are available in all three formats. However, the most popular Texas Hold’em format offers the largest variety of tables.

Here are the games Global Poker offers. The stakes are presented in SC because that is the most popular form of in-site currency used.

GameLowest StakesHighest Stakes
Ring Games (small blind/big blind)SC 0.02/SC 0.04SC 10/SC 20
Tournament (tickets)SC 0.11SC 33
Sit ‘n’ Go (entry fee/jackpot)SC 0.05/SC 0.5SC 18/SC 200
Jackpot Sit ‘n’ Go (entries/jackpot)SC 0.5/up to SC 5,000SC 20/ up to SC 200,000

Ring Games

Playing at Ring Games allows players to sit at a table whenever a seat is open and leave at any time. People in California always have access to an SC table with micro, low, medium, and high stakes 24 hours a day.

Tournaments

Tournaments are scheduled throughout the day, although some are held only once a week. You begin at a table of players and the last one standing progresses to the next table. Grand prizes usually depend on the number of entries.

Sit ‘n’ Go (Regular and Jackpot)

Sit ‘n’ Go are similar to tournaments except that the goal is to eliminate all players at a single table. The regular version awards a fixed top prize. The jackpot version randomly generates a top prize that can be as high as SC 200,000.

What Kinds Of Slots Can I Play At Sweepstakes Casinos?

Both sweepstakes casinos offer as many or more slots than most of the legal online gambling casinos in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

While Chumba has twice as many options as its main competitor, LuckyLand still boasts over 30 options.

The kinds of slots you can play run the gamut. At both social casinos, you can play three-reel classics as well as five-reel 3D slots with progressive jackpots.

Where Chumba Casino really outshines LuckyLand is in the top prize department. While LuckyLand has progressives that rise to over SC 20,000, Chumba has cash prize potential that’s in the millions.

For that reason, these Chumba Casino options reign supreme as the most popular slots of the close to 100 different options at both social casinos:

Western Gold

Western Gold is by far the most popular standalone progressive jackpot slot. This five-reel, 50 line game is about the Wild West, namely sheriffs versus bandits, moonshine, and Colt .45s.

At the time of writing this, the grand prize was SC 947,000. If that’s won, it can be redeemed for a massive cash prize. However, you can also score the minor or mini jackpots, which also displayed impressive SC tickers.

Dancing Gold & Stallion Grand

Dancing Gold and Stallion Grand share a progressive jackpot. This means that SC played on either slot contributes to the same progressive. 

The total today is SC 278,000, and it’s always an amount that can result in a life-changing cash prize. You can also win a mini, minor, or major jackpot, which is lower than the grand prize but still impressive.

Wild Roads & Triple Double Fever

Another shared progressive is the Wild Roads & Triple Double Fever slots. The grand prize when this was written sat at SC 224,000.

Wild Roads & Triple Double Fever are both three-reel, five-line slots that provide the chance to win major, minor, and mini jackpots. 

However, their popularity is often overtaken by the Stampede Fury & Reelin n’ Rockin shared progressive. Whichever has the highest SC grand prize are deemed the hottest slots of the day.

Sweepstakes Poker Sites: How Hard Are The Games?

Sweepstakes poker sites have a reputation across the online poker community as having inexperienced players. And a lack of experience translates to easy pickings, which attracts some of the best online poker players for that reason alone.

However, the professional level players located in California will likely play offshore real-money sites as their main source of online poker play. But because cardrooms are legal in California (versus casinos, which are limited to Native American tribal land), most of the best play in-person.

Still, that doesn’t apply to all states across the country, and not all experienced online poker players are willing to skirt the law. That means, among the thousands of active users on Global Poker, many are better than most at playing the game.

Is it easy to win Sweeps Tournaments at Global Poker?

The larger the jackpot, the harder it is to win at Global Poker. Huge winning potential will attract the best players. This makes it extremely difficult to win a multi-table tourney for a large SC grand prize.

Is it easy to win Sit ‘n’ Go at Global Poker?

Inexperienced players are more likely to get lucky at a Sit ‘n’ Go tournament at Global Poker because you only need to beat out a few players at one table to win.

Still, the higher the potential SC prize, the harder the competition. There’s no outright easy Sit ‘n’ Go options if you’re looking to play with SC.

What are the easiest games at Global Poker?

The easiest games are low stakes SC ring games and any game that’s played for Gold Coins. 

The most serious players will go for the highest cash prize potential, so the lower the SC, the lower the competition. 

And Gold Coins are all but disregarded by experienced players for the fact that you can’t redeem them for cash prizes.

California Online Casino & Poker Sweepstakes FAQ

Is there an age restriction for sweepstakes sites in California?

Yes. The legal age for playing at a sweepstakes casino in California is 18 and older.

In general, you have to be at least 18 to gamble in California. For example, it’s perfectly legal for an 18-year-old to buy a lottery ticket. However, many California casinos enforce a gambling age of 21 and up. All card rooms are also 21 and older.

How do you win real money in California at sweepstakes casinos and poker sites?

People in California cannot legally win real money at a site offering casino games, poker, or sports picks. However, it is possible to win cash prizes at sweepstakes sites.

To receive a cash prize, you need to redeem Sweeps Coins (SC) from the sweepstakes site. 

The minimum number of Sweeps Coins for a cash prize at Chumba Casino and Global Poker is significantly higher than redeeming for a gift card.

Are the sweepstakes poker sites in California busy?

Yes. Global Poker has thousands of active players. 

Anyone in the United States and Canada can join Global Poker except for those located in the State of Washington and Quebec. 

Compared to online poker gambling sites in the four states that legalized it, that’s an enormous player pool. Even the legal poker site with an interstate player pool (888Poker) can’t compete with almost all of North America north of Mexico.

Can I deposit to California sweepstakes sites?

No, and you can’t deposit at sweepstakes sites period. 

Instead, you purchase Gold Coins, which can only be used at the sweepstakes site and cannot be redeemed for cash prizes or gift cards. But some packages of Gold Coins also include Sweeps Coins (SC). 

Once those SC are played through once, they can be redeemed for cash prizes or gift cards. For example, if you receive SC 20 from Chumba Casino, you’d need to use all of it to play their games. Whatever’s leftover is redeemable.

How do I receive my cash prize if I win at a sweepstakes casino or poker site?

The simplest way to receive your cash prize is by opening a Skrill account. 

Skrill is an e-wallet that’s similar to PayPal. But unlike PayPal, Skrill allows people in California and elsewhere to buy Gold Coins and redeem Sweeps Coins from all social gaming sites. 

Skrill is secure, trustworthy, and extremely easy to set up and utilize. 

About the Author

Mike Epifani

Mike Epifani (shown here at Caesar's Palace Las Vegas) is a highly experienced online gambling writer who specializes in online casinos and sports betting sites. From the nuances of bonus offers to winning strategies and beyond, his insights have helped countless remote bettors keep more of their money while having fun and staying safe.