Unmasking the Origins: How Social Casinos Found Their Place in the US

Some say social casinos share their ancestry with early social networks. I remember logging in to Facebook and reading a weird notification. My friend has invited me to poker. What? On Facebook? But there it was. Virtual tables, chat windows, and a stack of digital chips. Zynga Poker. It was addictive and fun. No real money involved, just a friendly game. People loved it. The concept spread like wildfire.

See, early social media was very different than today. They were like toddlers. Fun, innocent and unpredictable. The early social media did more than just connect people. They created a new kind of digital playground. New possibilities. Developers realized Facebook is not just about chatting with John who used to live across in elementary school. It was about making money. So apps started popping up, games included. The appeal was immediate. People logged in daily just for these games. Chasing friends with silly invites to earn some points. Social elements played a crucial role. Players sent each other gifts, shared their wins, and competed on leaderboards. And there it was. The seed of social casinos was planted.

There’s No Cash to Win

What exactly are social casinos? Well, it’s almost unfair to call them casinos since you can’t gamble for real money. No cash to win either. It’s almost liberating. In contrast to traditional casinos where you must make deposits, or in contrast to sweepstakes where you have to convert your cash into virtual currency, social casinos generally allow you to play without needing to transfer funds, make a deposit, or even possess any money at all. Some of these platforms do have virtual currencies, but that currency is given to you, not purchased.

The term “sweepstake casino” further complicates things because it is often used for social casinos and vice versa. Although they are very similar in principle, the distinction is that most sweepstake casinos allow for some sort of cash withdrawal, while most social casinos don’t. Rather, they focus on the social element. This, technically, doesn’t mean they are casinos, but at the same time, they keep the core elements of the casino experience.

Why the US?

Social casinos (and sweepstake casinos) are immensely popular in the US. Possibly more than in any other part of the world. Their ascend started somewhere in the early 2000s, and now there are dozens of US social casinos online to choose from, with new ones opened regularly. So what’s the big deal here? Why the US? There’s no single answer. Perhaps part of the reason lies in regulations. Or better to say – lack of them. The USA has a long history of gambling but that was usually not followed by clear laws. Social and sweepstake casinos were sort of the answer to that. Their specific nature made them legal not because they fulfilled codes and regulations, but rather because there weren’t any to prohibit them. No real money involved, remember? Clever workaround. And because of that, the whole thing can’t qualify as a real casino. This was one of the main reasons for social casinos becoming so popular in the states. Culture? Another factor. Americans love sweepstakes. From cereal box contests to big TV giveaways. A tradition of sorts. Sweepstake casinos tap into this. Familiar, exciting, accessible.

Formula For Success

Social casinos capitalize on several things. Humans love to gamble. To gamble without the risk? Appealing. But add accessibility to the equation and the whole thing starts making more sense. Smartphones are everywhere. It makes gaming even easier. Community interaction is also huge. Leaderboards, tournaments, friends list. Social casinos turn solo play into a community affair. Camaraderie adds depth to the gaming experience. Like in real casinos, rewards and bonuses keep the excitement alive. Daily spins, bonus chips, special events. They draw players back.

But, some resistance has been showing for some time now. And only time will tell if regulations come into place. There was a lawsuit against Amazon for offering social casino apps on their platform. Section 230 is pretty clear about that, at least that’s what the company holds on. Then, Michigan demanded social casinos to stop operating in their state. The pressure for more regulations will build up with time. No doubt about that.