Although real money online poker is not available in California, sweepstakes poker sites such as Global Poker are still an option for California poker enthusiasts. Generally, sweepstakes poker sites attract players from all skill levels, allowing players to spend time with their hobby without breaking anti-gambling laws.
Since California isn’t likely to legalize online poker in the near future, sweepstakes poker sites are the best option for playing poker from home. Below, we’ll break down everything you need to know about these sites in California.
Best Sweepstakes Online Poker Site In California
Of all the available sweepstakes poker sites, Global Poker is without question the best option. It provides a stable platform, a consistent user base, and the most popular game variations.
Furthermore, Global Poker has a few welcome bonuses that new players will appreciate, including:
- A $40 Gold Coin package for only $20, which includes 20,000 Gold Coins and 40 Sweeps Coins
- A $20 Gold Coin package upon account verification
The bonus is available for all new players and does not require a bonus code.
Check out our Complete Review for Global Poker In California.
Quick Guide To Sweepstakes Poker In California
How Does Sweepstakes Poker Work In California?
In California and beyond, sweepstakes poker sites like Global Poker operate by providing players with two digital currencies:
- Gold Coins, which are purchasable and the primary currency in games, do not have any real-world cash value.
- Sweeps Coins, which are earned via rewards, mailing-in, or by purchasing Gold Coins, are the currency for sweepstakes games. They can be exchanged for cash prizes and are roughly equivalent to $1 USD.
Games are divided into two types: Gold Coins games and Sweeps Coins games. Because neither of these digital currencies are real money, players aren’t technically gambling. The rules for each game depend on the variation and number of players.
How Do You Win Cash Prizes By Playing Poker?
As mentioned, players can use their Sweeps Coins to play online poker for real money prizes. Essentially, the Sweeps Coins take the place of actual cash, and any Sweep Coins winnings can be exchanged after the game ends.
However, most sweepstakes poker sites require that players accumulate a minimum number of Sweeps Coins before redeeming them for cash. For Global Poker, that minimum is 50 Sweeps Coins.
Sweeps Coin redemption is a straightforward process performed through the poker site’s interface. After your identity has been verified, the money will typically be wired directly to your attached bank account.
How Do You Access Sweepstakes Poker Sites In California?
Players can access sweepstakes poker sites on desktop or through mobile applications. Some only offer one option, and others will offer multiple.
Global Poker, for example, only has a desktop interface. However, it’s also optimized for mobile browsers, which allows a smooth and consistent poker experience from remote locations.
These sweepstakes sites usually require a few bits of identifying information for you to sign up for an account. This will include your name, email address, and perhaps your Social Security number to verify your age. You only need to provide a form of ID and proof of address when you go to cash out your Sweeps Coins.
After creating an account, you’ll be able to access the poker site. Virtually all sweepstakes poker sites provide free Gold Coins upon account creation, so you can start playing immediately.
How Do Purchases Work At California’s Sweepstakes Poker Sites?
When you make an account for a California sweepstakes poker site, you’ll be asked for one or more payment methods. For Global Poker, these accepted payment methods include:
- Visa and MasterCard
- Skrill e-wallet
- Direct bank account
You can select any of these methods to purchase Gold Coin packages. Gold Coins are usually packaged in bundles with Sweeps Coins. For example, when you can purchase a $20 Gold Coin bundle, you will receive thousands of Gold Coins along with 20 Sweeps Coins.
What Are The Sweepstakes Poker Cash-Out Options?
When it comes time to cash out, the most common method by far is direct bank transfer. In most cases, the sweepstakes poker site will ask for a valid form of government ID and ask you to connect a bank account to the site.
After verifying your identity, the sweepstakes poker site will transfer your Sweeps Coin cash prize directly to your bank account over the course of a few business days.
How Does Entry By Mail Work At Sweepstakes Poker Sites?
Practically all sweepstakes sites (not just poker) allow players to earn additional Sweeps Coins by mailing in a personal request. The exact requirements vary from site to site, but the general step-by-step process goes like this:
- Write the sweepstakes site or department address on a stamped number 10 envelope.
- Inside the envelope, include a 4” x 6” postcard or piece of white paper with your request for Sweeps Coins. The exact wording is usually on the sweepstakes site’s website.
- Handwrite a return address on the front of the envelope and indicate that it’s a sweepstakes credit request.
Most sweepstakes sites will place the requested Sweeps Coins into your site bankroll within a few business days.
What Is The Difference Between Sweepstakes Poker And Legal Online Poker Sites?
The primary difference between regular online poker sites and sweepstakes sites is that the former allows players to gamble with real money while the latter only allows playing with digital currency. No real cash is ever on the table, so sweepstakes sites do not violate anti-gambling legislation in California.
However, sweepstakes poker sites still allow players to exchange their Sweeps Coins (that they receive for free as part of either Gold Coin bundles, promotions, or by request) for real cash prizes. This is not the same as playing for real money, as neither Sweeps Coins nor Gold Coins have any real-world value.
Additionally, legal online poker sites may offer a wider variety of poker games or higher stakes tournaments. While sweepstakes poker sites also offer tournaments, the ultimate winnings may not be as high as legal online poker counterparts.
Still, both types of sites usually offer a few different varieties of poker. Many legal online poker sites also include casino games as extra options.
Legal Status Of Online Gambling In California
Unfortunately, California still does not allow legal online gambling with the exception of daily fantasy sports. Even then, the only reason why daily fantasy sports remain legal is that it technically isn’t considered gambling (as it involves a strong element of skill).
California considers as online gambling and therefore bans any activity that is:
- A game of chance
- A game in which real money is wagered
Thus, online sweepstakes casinos and poker sites are the only real online gaming options in California. Otherwise, players have to visit brick-and-mortar tribal casinos or regulated card rooms to participate in these activities.
There is one other bright spot – California does allow online horse race betting.
Is It Safe To Play Sweepstakes Poker In California?
Are Sweepstakes Sites Legal In California?
Absolutely. Sweepstakes sites like Global Poker, Chumba Casino, and LuckyLand Slots operate according to a sweepstakes model, meaning that their business models are designed from the ground up to avoid playing with real-world money.
These sites are regulated by different authorities but all must be careful to avoid letting players put real money on the table. Otherwise, they would no longer be allowed to operate in California.
Is My Information Safe On Sweepstakes Poker Apps In California?
Yes. Sweepstakes sites like Global Poker not only use high-tech security software to ensure the protection of the financial and identifying information of its players but are also regulated by an independent company called Malta Gaming Authority. This organization oversees sweepstakes promotions and prizes and ensures that such websites don’t accidentally or intentionally give out the information of their players.
However, remember that no form of digital security is 100 percent safe. You have to be comfortable giving your information to sweepstakes sites in order to enjoy their activities. Still, most highly-rated sweepstakes sites are known for their security and diligence.
What Types Of Games Are Available At Sweepstakes Poker Sites In California?
Most sweepstakes poker sites in California offer a few staple poker game types, including No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, Limit Hold ‘Em, and Pot-Limit Omaha. Below, we’ll explain each one.
No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em
This is arguably the most popular type of poker in the world. Beginning with two hole cards, players can bet or raise any amount they desire over the minimum raise, allowing for more exciting stakes and hands.
Limit Hold ‘Em
This variation allows for bets and raises equal to the big blind during the first two rounds of betting. Players can place bets or raises equal to twice the big blind during the second two rounds of betting.
This is another very popular variation of poker. As opposed to Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha players get four hole cards each.
Most sweepstakes poker sites offer tournaments for players who prefer real competition and stakes. Tournaments may be multi-table and take place over the weekend, usually with higher Sweeps Coin pots. Daily tournaments are usually “Sit-N-Gos”, which are relatively low-commitment tournaments that are ideal for beginners or casual players.
California Sweepstakes Online Poker FAQ
No. “Winning” real money would require it to be wagered in the first place, which is not a possibility on sweepstakes poker sites. However, you can play with Sweeps Coins. If you win multiple coins after one or more poker games, you can exchange these for cash prizes.
You need to be 18-years-old to use most sweepstakes poker apps in California. However, this is completely at the discretion of each site.
Generally speaking, you’ll have more luck finding players during evening hours or on the weekend. In California, the ideal window would be from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm PST. This is when East Coast and western Europe are also off work.
You trade in your Sweeps Coins, once you hit the minimum, for cash prizes. The cash prize amount will you be detailed on each sweepstakes poker site.
No. Global Poker, essentially the only reputable sweepstakes poker site in California, doesn’t include casino games. However, future sweepstakes poker sites may include sweepstakes casino games as well.
Yes. In fact, it’s available throughout most of the US and even internationally.