Stardust Memories: Ex-Strip casino name attached to Boyd Gaming social app By Howard Stutz, Executive Editor, CDC Gaming Reports July 21, 2020 at 7:30 pm Boyd Gaming’s new Stardust Social Casino app likely won’t stay a social app for very long. The Las Vegas-based regional casino operator has relaunched the bulk of its operations following some three months of closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. But during the shutdown, the company couldn’t miss the iGaming results coming out of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where Boyd operates the Valley Forge Casino. According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, online slots and table games play in the state produced monthly revenue figures that were more than double the pre-COVID-19 totals. On the record, a Boyd spokesman declined to comment on the company’s online gaming interest. But read between the lines in the statement from CEO Keith Smith that accompanied the social gaming app’s announcement. The mobile app is named for the Rat Pack-era Strip resort that was imploded in 2007. “Stardust is a name that clearly resonates with gaming customers across all generations,” Smith said. “Given its considerable brand equity, we believe the Stardust name will give Boyd Gaming a unique advantage as we further expand our online and mobile gaming presence.” Boyd has an online presence in Pennsylvania and Indiana through its sports betting partnership with FanDuel. In Nevada, Boyd operates its B Connected mobile sports betting app. The pandemic-influenced casino closures kept casino customers at home around the country. In states with online gaming, the revenue figures spiked. In Nevada, where there is just one online poker website – WSOP.com – play increased roughly 50%. Screenshot of Stardust Social Casino. Free play social gaming filled the void countrywide. Social gaming involves online versions of the industry’s most popular slot content – or original games, in some cases – played for free on a mobile device or desktop computer. Players use virtual tokens to play the games. For nominal fees, however, players can increase their bankroll by purchasing additional tokens. Social gaming tied to casino websites allows players to win restaurant vouchers, show tickets, hotel room discounts, and other non-gaming awards that can be redeemed when visiting the property. Boyd is following that format. Stardust Social Casino also offers rewards and benefits at Boyd’s 29 properties in 10 states. Virtual credit purchases in the app will earn points and tier credits within Boyd Gaming’s B Connected player loyalty program. The company was working on a social gaming platform prior to COVID-19. “The last several months clearly demonstrated the need for a social gaming presence,” said Boyd spokesman David Strow. The surprise was that the Stardust had any brand recognition outside Las Vegas. Strow said Boyd customers in its Midwest and southern markets felt a connection to the name. The resort had a 50-year run on the Strip, was home to the Lido de Paris production, and the casino’s showroom was the stage for magicians Siegfried & Roy. But the Stardust had an infamous side as well. In the 1970s, the property was run by the Argent Corporation, a company controlled by several Midwest organized crime families, who installed Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal to operate the casino. Somewhere between $7 million and $15 million was skimmed from the Stardust by the mob before the FBI broke the case. Rosenthal’s tenure as head of the Stardust was the basis for Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film Casino, although the resort’s name was changed to “Tangiers.” Boyd Gaming took over the Stardust in 1985 and expanded the resort, but made the decision 20 years later to demolish the building in favor of the nearly $5 billion Echelon project. Construction on Echelon was halted in 2008 and Boyd sold the location in 2013 to Malaysia-based Genting Berhad, which will open Resorts World Las Vegas on the site next year. Boyd always retained ownership of the name Stardust. The company has used the name in a variety of ways. The Blue Chip Riverboat Casino in Northern Indiana is home to the Stardust Events Center, the Orleans in Las Vegas has the roof-top Stardust Suite for special events, and at the Suncoast in Las Vegas, the 90Ninety Bar and Grill has elements of the Stardust signage in its ceiling. Short of re-branding one of the company’s properties as the Stardust, the social casino app seems like the perfect vehicle to reattach the Stardust name to a gaming attraction. Smith said the social casino would bring back “the nostalgia and excitement” of the brand. Somewhere, the ghosts of the Stardust are smiling. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.