What Is a Social Casino?

What Are They and How Are They Different from Online Casinos?

Image of people playing poker in a social casino game
Social Casino Games Offer Casino Fun with None of the Risk.

 Image (c) FilippoBacci / E+ / Getty Images

If you like to play casino games, but don't like risking your hard-earned cash to do it, social casinos might be right for you.

What Is a Social Casino?

A social casino is an app or website where you can play popular casino games like roulette, video poker, slots, and blackjack with your online friends. You can play by downloading an app for your mobile device, by downloading an app for your computer, or by using your web browser. Even Facebook offers a wide variety of social casino games.

Despite the name, you're not gambling when you play at a social casino. You don't bet real money when you play, and you don't get real money when you win. The games are for entertainment purposes only.

Some social casinos are run by independent companies. Others are offered by regular casinos, who want a way to keep their customers thinking about them and playing, even when they are at home and not on the casino floor.

Some people prefer social casinos run by actual casinos because they can play virtual versions of the games that they enjoy most on the casino floor, whereas non-affiliated social casinos offer knock-off games. But keep in mind that this is a kind of advertisement for those casinos.

How Much Does It Cost?

Social casinos are free to download and play, though they often make their money through in-game purchases. Many of them use virtual coins to lay bets on the games. When you're out of coins, you can't play again until they are restocked, which often happens on a daily or hourly basis.

If you're running low on coins and want to continue playing without waiting for a refill, you can buy more coins for real money. Note that this still isn't gambling, because you're only extending your playtime, not influencing your chances of winning. And real money isn't on the table.

Even in this case, though, there are usually free alternatives. For example, most social casinos allow you to request more coins from your friends or get them for performing other actions like referring friends or watching video ads.

You may wonder why social casinos let you have free options to keep playing when they could just charge you. Social casinos want as many people as possible to play their games. Letting players help each other with free coins and more encourages players to get their friends to play as well.

So if you're careful with your playtime and have friends who also like to play, you can enjoy social casinos for no charge at all.

Playing Social Casino Games With Your Friends

Aside from being able to gift each other with coins, there are other good reasons to play social casino games with your friends. For example, chatting while you play slots or sharing a virtual poker table together can be a lot of fun.

Some social casinos also offer special events that you can play with your friends, or you can compete with them to rank on a leaderboard. Because many people are looking to exchange gifts of coins, online casinos are also a good place to make virtual friends to chat and share a game with.

Social Casinos vs. Online Casinos

If you're trying to decide whether to play a social casino or an online casino, here are some pros and cons of each.

Social Casinos
  • Not really gambling

  • Legal in jurisdictions where online gambling is prohibited

  • Available to people who don't gamble for moral, religious, or other personal reasons

  • No monetary risk

  • Larger game variety

  • Can play where and when you want via apps

  • Good way to hone your skills

Online Casinos
  • Involves real gambling

  • Not legal in some jurisdictions

  • Moral implications

  • Can lose a lot of money

  • Limited corpus of games

The biggest difference between online and social casinos, of course, is that online casinos involve real gambling, whereas social casinos do not. And this difference leads to many others.

For example, because they don't involve gambling, social casinos are legal in jurisdictions where online gambling is prohibited. They're also available to people who don't gamble for moral, religious, or other personal reasons.

Social casinos can be totally free, whereas you have to risk your hard-earned money to play in online casinos. You get all of the fun and excitement of playing and winning without any of the risks.

Social casinos also have more options available to them in terms of the games and events they can offer. After all, they don't have to worry much about players finding loopholes to scam them out of money. They're usually more engaging than online casinos because their popularity revolves around people having fun with their friends.

Some examples of fun features that social casinos offer include customizable avatars, storylines in their games, tournaments, frequent new games, and even fun challenges like the chance to build your own Vegas-style casino city.

Social casinos are easier to use on mobile devices since major download sites like Google Play won't host gambling apps. This gives you the flexibility to play when and where you want.

Because you can play without risking real money, social casinos are a great way to hone your skills at games like blackjack or poker so that next time you play in a real casino or against friends, you have a better chance of winning.

Now of course, for some people, the allure of winning real money is the whole point of playing casino games and nothing but an online casino will do.

Pitfalls of Social Casinos

Although you are not gambling at a social casino, there are risks involved. For example, there are serious concerns that playing casino games, even when no money is on the line, can spark a gambling addiction.

People who play regularly on their phones may come to see playing these games as totally normal, leading to overspending in real casinos. And anyone who is at risk for addiction should avoid any kind of casino games.

Furthermore, while you can play for free, many people do not. Social casinos generate revenue based on a pay-to-win or freemium model, where they offer games for free but encourage people to pay real money for fun extras like more plays, gifts for friends, and so on.

These voluntary payments can add up quickly, especially when they are wrapped in the excitement of playing and winning casino games. You should be sure that you have a strict budget before you start to play.