When Boyd Gaming recently launched Stardust Social Casino on iOS and Android, it was another entry in a crowded market for social casino games. But Stardust Casino has played a significant role in Las Vegas history, and the company is betting that the appeal will draw people to the virtual casino.

The game is the beginning of a digital strategy for a brick and mortar gambling company that is not having an easy time of it during the pandemic. It has been in the works for a couple of years and so far Boyd Gaming notes that a lot of people recognize the Stardust name, either out of nostalgia or out of curiosity about the casino’s famous history. This is another example of how games can help businesses that aren’t in the physical space but can potentially keep customers happy on the digital side.

It also applies the retro trend popular with console gamers to the social casino gaming market. And with an online game that makes people nostalgic about the Stardust Hotel or the other Boyd Gaming casino objects that most people can no longer visit in person due to the pandemic.

“We were looking for what we would call our online presence and our brand,” said Blake Rampmaier of Boyd Gaming in an interview with GamesBeat. “We were a little surprised at how lively the Stardust brand is in different age groups. It arouses a lot of positive emotions and, quite frankly, a lot of intrigue. We have never shied away from the past. When it went through its controversial times, we had nothing to do with it. But we love to be part of the story the government has sought to clean up. This reputation is still very important to us. “

Las Vegas story

The Stardust opened on the Las Vegas Strip in 1958 and had the largest electric sign in the world at the time (216 feet long with 7,000 feet of neon tubes). More like a humble motel, it was one of the places the neon was used in Las Vegas. Its first owner, former pirate Tony Cornero, died suspiciously three years before construction began. He was allegedly poisoned by rival gangsters. John Factor of cosmetics company Max Factor bought the project and leased it to Moe Dalitz, who had mob ties and who came to be known as Mr. Las Vegas.

When the hotel opened, it had a 16,500-square-foot casino and a 105-foot swimming pool. Couples could stay at the hotel for $ 6 a day. In his prime, Ed Sullivan came to Stardust to broadcast his CBS variety show. And Muhammad Ali trained in the Stardust for his heavyweight fight with Floyd Patterson.

Above: The Stardust Globe sign was impressive back then.

Photo credit: Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc.

While the Stardust was reminiscent and its early mob connections inspired the 1995 Martin Scorsese Movie Casino, the hotel was demolished with great enthusiasm in 2007. The burlesque show Le Lido de Paris took place in Stardust, and it was the first Las Vegas stage of the legendary magicians Siegfried & Roy. General Manager Frank Rosenthal (played by actor Robert Deniro in the casino film) lured the wizards with a gift of a Rolls Royce, a car that his wife (played by Sharon Stone) had refused.

After years of illegally skimming casino winnings, the mob was finally ousted from the Stardust in 1983 when the Nevada Gaming Control Board took control. Boyd Gaming took over the Stardust as operator and became owner in 1985. The company added a 32-story tower in 1991, but the hotel’s presence dwindled with the construction of mega-casinos in the 1990s and 2000s. Amid the global financial crisis in 2007, the hotel was detonated with explosives and the tower imploded in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

Creating a Social Casino Game

Above: The Stardust Hotel imploded on the Las Vegas Strip on Tuesday, March 13, 2007.

Photo Credit: (Photo / Las Vegas News Bureau, Darrin Bush)

If you think the Stardust name might appeal to an older audience, that’s not a bad guess. But the Stardust story is interesting, and that could be a win for the crowded social casino game market, which had sales of $ 6.2 billion in the last 12 months, according to market analyst Eilers & Krejcik.

Rivals in social casino games include Playtika, Aristocrat, SciPlay, DoubleU Games, Zynga, Bole Games, and Huuuge Games. To stand a chance, a newbie like Boyd Gaming has to have a catch in attracting people. Like some of the other social casino game operators, Boyd Gaming still has its gambling characteristics. It operates 29 in 10 states, including the California Hotel in Las Vegas.

The app for Android and iOS is a free social casino game where you can buy virtual chips with money. But you cannot cash out the chips so it is not considered a game of chance in most states.

Boyd Gaming decided to run both online sports betting and social casino games a few years ago. That involved a lot of technology investments, said Rampmaier. The Stardust Social Casino game is one of the first results of this effort that consumers will see.

Above: A Stardust dancer on a poster

Photo credit: Boyd Gaming

At the moment the social casino game is a collection of slot machines and it doesn’t convey much history about the casino except through a few pictures. But as time went on, Rampmaier, who is also the chief information officer, said the team will put more of that story into the game.

“We have a roadmap and we are keeping it calm for the time being,” he said. “We’re going into some of the things that you (about history) touched on in this roadmap.”

A digital strategy

The game isn’t just based on the Stardust appeal. Boyd Gaming regularly updates the various slot machines in the casino based on the slot machines on the real casino floors across the country. You can earn rewards that can be redeemed at Boyd Gaming hotels across the country. Through virtual credit purchases in the app, players receive points and tier credit in the Boyd loyalty program. These points can be redeemed at Boyd Hotels. The social casino game features slot machines that are the same as those found on the floors of the real casino.

“Stardust is really our first national brand with the greatest mystique,” said Rampmaier. “Now our fans can collect points and link them to their hotel credit.”

Above: The Stardust Social casino game looks like many slot machines.

Photo credit: Boyd Gaming

So far, the results are good, said Rampmaier.

“We found in our research that the typical social game population is pretty much our core demographic,” he said. “What we find interesting is that the population is a little younger in both our stationary and social casinos. This is a change that we saw in the pandemic. We wonder if this younger population is coming to us earlier than expected. This ties in with our digital strategy and our roadmap. “

Some of these differences can help Boyd Gaming stand out from the crowd.

“While most casino companies have a social casino app, they don’t have many of the slots that are on the casino floor,” said Rampmaier. “It’s a big difference for us. And not everyone offers the opportunity to earn loyalty points and credits when shopping at a social casino game.

Rampmaier said the company has started promoting the game on its membership database and social media.

“Overall, things are going pretty well for us. We are satisfied with the loyalty and commitment so far. “

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