Chumba Casino and Global Poker Operator Shuts Down Business in Michigan

Jessica Aletor
By:
Jessica Aletor
02/12/2023/
Industry
Michigan Casino News

Highlights

  • Virtual Gaming Worlds (VGW) has completely ceased business activity in Michigan, weeks after it announced its exit from the state.
  • While in Michigan, Virtual Gaming Worlds was the operator of Chumba Casino, Global Poker and Luckyland Slots.
  • Michigan now becomes the first jurisdiction with legalized casinos to see the social platform leave as the state hopes to clamp down on unregulated gambling.

Quite a number of operators are leaving—or have left—Michigan, especially in the final quarter of this year. Most of the exits have been due to actions of the Michigan Gaming Control Board in tightening gambling regulations across the state. A few others, however, made the business decision to leave the Great Lakes State due to financial and operational constraints.

For Virtual Gaming Worlds, the resolution to halt operations in Michigan stems from both factors it appears. This especially true, considering that the company’s exit announcement came weeks after Golden Heart Games Inc. was booted out of the state back in September.

Chumba and Luckyland to Allow Customers Redeem Prizes till Feb. 2024 

Virtual Gaming Worlds was the operator of Chumba Casino, Global Poker and Luckyland Slots. The Australian-based company typically provided social-style gambling services to its now former customers in Michigan. Its major product, Chumba Casino was renowned as one of the United States’ most famous social casinos.

Chumba Casino adopted a sweepstakes model whereby players bet on chops and win sweeps coins. These sweeps coins can, in turn, be redeemed for a wide range of prizes. 

Virtual Gaming Worlds first announced its decision to leave Michigan in October 2023. Representatives of the company revealed that they “continually evaluate their business operations in the interests of all their stakeholders and after careful consideration they have decided to take this course of action.”

The company officially closed its doors to Michigan players in November. In its statement, the management of VGW had announced that it would stop potential customers from purchasing gold coins on Chumba Casino as far back as November 1. However, clients with existing gold coins and sweeps coins in their accounts would be allowed to play games until December 1.

Despite this, players who win sweeps coins before December 1 would be able to redeem their prizes up until February 1, 2024. However, the company revealed that it would stop accepting requests for free sweeps coins as of December 1. So, while the company is now non-operational in Michigan, it will still permit rewards and prize collection into 2024.

Michigan’s Stance on Unregulated Gambling Partly Responsible for Exit

With Chumba Casino officially out of Michigan, the list of states where it no longer operates has now grown to three. Washington and Idaho were the only US states where Chumba Casino was not available. It also makes Michigan the first state with legal online casinos to see multiple social casinos halt business operations.

Much of this development has been due to the approach of the Michigan Gaming Control Board in tackling unregulated gambling. However, it seems that social casinos have been caught in the crosshairs.

Golden Heart Games was the first of its kind to suffer this fate when it was forced out of Michigan in October. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel revealed that casinos like Golden Hearts were an attempt to subvert existing gambling laws and rob the government of important revenue streams.

“Unlicensed gaming robs our schools and our government of essential funding and leaves consumers unprotected. When companies like Golden Hearts attempt to circumvent Michigan’s gaming laws, they create the false impression that their games are legal and safe for consumers. My office is committed to ensuring that our gaming laws are strictly enforced and those who violate those laws are held accountable,” Nessel said in a press statement.

Golden Heart Games Claims It Operated Lawfully Before Leaving Michigan

Although Golden Hearts has exited the Michigan market, it is seeking to clear its name months after. The charitable gaming company has cleared the air, stating that it was not involved in any illegal activity during its time in Michigan. However, it also revealed that it does not have the financial resources to prove its case in court.

“We respect the Michigan regulators and officials who always acted in good faith and have essential, important missions, but we want to make clear that Golden Hearts Games has never admitted to any wrongdoing or legal or regulatory violations of any kind, in Michigan or anywhere,” Steve Kane, CEO & Co-Founder of Golden Hearts Games told the press.

“The company and its counsel believe it has never violated any Michigan (or other) laws or regulations. But the Michigan A.G. stated its intent to file a civil action (under the MI Consumer Protection Act) and Golden Hearts Games is a young, small company with sparse resources. So, to avoid potentially prolonged, expensive litigation, we voluntarily withdrew from Michigan.”

Golden Hearts Games continues to operate in other US jurisdictions. However, the new regulatory regime of the MGCB may just have new targets in the coming months.

Jessica is a news contributor to Gamble Online Michigan. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics but has over three years of experience working in the hospitality and gambling industry. Despite her core finance and investment banking background, she has been a casino feature writer for N1 Interactive Limited and multiple gambling affiliate sites. Her work has been featured on the bet365 blog, casino.zone and Max Force Racing. She spends her time between Michigan and California, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments