One of the first iGaming industry conferences I ever attended was CAC Vegas 2005, held at the iconic Stardust Resort and Casino. For this reason, the Stardust brand has a special place in my heart and Boyd Gaming’s recent announcement of their Stardust Social Casino launch caught my attention.
Turns out Boyd Gaming has a lot cooking on the online side of their American gaming and hospitality business, with their free-to-play Stardust Social Casino merely scratching the surface of a much larger digital offering roadmap.
“About two years ago we decided to get into the three main areas of focus. Online sports betting with the repeal of PASPA, online real money gaming and social casino”, shared Blake Rampmaier, SVP and CIO of Boyd Gaming.
“We knew we had this amazing brand of Stardust and quite honestly, we didn’t really understand how powerful it was until we did a little bit of research and sure enough it is a strong brand across the country, across multiple age groups, so we knew we had a winner”, he said of the app’s launch.
What’s extra special about the Stardust app is patrons are able to earn “B Connected” points and tier credits through the app, B Connected being Boyd Gaming’s loyalty program.
“When people go in [the app] and they purchase coins- if they want to play more than the free play coins that they get on a daily or hourly basis- they actually earn B Connected points and B Connected tier credits so then that helps drive them back to the Brick and Mortar casino”, Rampmaier explained.
“So [Stardust Social Casino] is certainly a component that helps drive that additional land-based business. It’s not to offset it, it’s to augment it”, he added.
When asked what Boyd’s target market is with the Social Casino, Rampmaier said their first focus is to market to their strong database of users in the B Connected program.
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“We want to extend that entertainment experience to our customers beyond the Brick and Mortar experience and engage them in ways that are very meaningful to them, where we show them how much we appreciate them as a customer and we’re giving them those perks and rewards no matter where they are, no matter where they are interacting with us”, he shared.
“Certainly there’s an aspect there of going in and working with user acquisition, getting additional users from various ways, leveraging our social media campaigns, social media foundation which is very strong and certainly the Stardust brand is not going to end with the social casino”, he said.
“We do have plans for that brand and we’re excited to hopefully make some announcements before the end of the year”, Rampmaier revealed.
As part of their strategy to build a stronger online presence in the American market, Boyd Gaming was quick to focus on online sports betting after the repeal of PASPA several years back.
“We went out and looked at several potential partners and we landed on FanDuel and FanDuel has been an amazing strategic partner of ours”, Rampmaier confirmed.
Boyd Gaming actually owns 5% of FanDuel and they work together in various jurisdictions throughout the U.S., with FanDuel running Boyd’s sportsbooks outside of Vegas and they partner on real money gaming as well.
“I think it was back in mid-January of this year where we launched with Fan Duel within the Fan Duel sports betting app, where you can click on “real money gaming” and that’s our tie-in with Valley Forge, our Valley Forge Casino”, explained Rampmaier.
“We’ve been live with real money gaming for really the better part of the year and we’d like to continue to expand that in various jurisdictions with our strategic partner of FanDuel”, he confirmed.
2020 has been a strange and tragic year for everyone due to COVID, but Boyd Gaming has succeeded in making the best of the situation and learning from it, especially when it comes to their digital offerings.
“You take a look at our capability road map that we’ve established two or three years ago and we’ve hit a lot of those things that we set out to accomplish, but now the items that we have over the next 12-18 months certainly were expedited and we’re looking to get those to market as quickly as possible”, he shared.
Rampmaier also elaborated on Boyd’s strategic partnership with Aristocrat that was established several years ago, a partnership that has positioned Boyd Gaming well for the current situation we are facing today.
“Like most gaming companies that are nation-wide, we had multiple loyalty systems, we had multiple slot management systems and multiple casino management systems. We went with Aristocrat to have a single platform that offers all those in one ecosystem and the benefits of that are tremendous”, Rampmaier revealed.
“We now have the ability to release technology must faster than others because we have one system that we need to worry about”, he said.
“We’re looking into things like cardless connect for the loyalty card – or you’re looking into digital wallet, or cashless wagering – those are things that we’re all looking at and are very excited about and we now have with our partnership with Aristocrat who’s also quite frankly a technology partner of ours – an innovation partner of ours – we’re able to move much faster than we were two or three years ago”, Rampmaier added.