Stardust Casino players may notice changes to their online casino experience in the coming months. Boyd Gaming, which owns the brand, will soon begin migrating users to its new in-house platform.
Boyd made the announcement to investors in its Q4 2022 earnings call. Answering a question from Shaun Kelley of Bank of America, Boyd CEO Keith Smith said:
We’d expect that transition to occur in the next couple of months, think mid-year in terms of when that happens.
Kelly’s question was about the potential impact on the company’s revenue. On that front, Smith said to expect little change in the first year but growth after that. He mentioned that users would experience “some slight differences.”
A Fruitful Alliance With FanDuel
As an online brand, Stardust Casino came about by way of Boyd’s cooperation with FanDuel.
Boyd is a major US retail and hospitality company. Compared to competitors like MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, its forays into the online space have come later and been smaller in scope. However, it is now starting to ramp up its efforts.
Boyd owns a 5% stake in FanDuel and hosts many of the latter’s retail sportsbooks at its properties. It also provided the online sports betting giant its first toehold in Nevada, with a Fremont Street sportsbook scheduled to open later this year.
The company told investors it had net earnings (EBITDAR) of $17 million in Q4 from these online activities, more than double what it had made in the same period in 2021.
New Life for an Old Name
Stardust represents the online casino component of that partnership. The original Stardust was an iconic “old Vegas” property that opened in 1958. Boyd shut it down in 2006 and demolished the building the following year. However, the brand found new life as a way to help FanDuel appeal to pure casino players.
As recognizable as the FanDuel name is, it’s one that gamblers associate primarily with sports betting. Partnering with Boyd to resurrect the StarDust brand was a move with a strategically similar basis to its rival DraftKings‘ acquisition of Golden Nugget Online Casino, though different in approach.
The Stardust online casino launched in two states in April 2021. In New Jersey, it was simply a rebranding of FanDuel’s existing Betfair Casino. In Pennsylvania, it was a brand new site and app.
Until now, Boyd’s role in the endeavor has largely been to provide the name, marketing support, and its B Connected player loyalty program. FanDuel has supplied the technology for both the user interface and the account management back end. In fact, FanDuel users can use their credentials to log into Stardust without creating a separate account.
Putting Pala Technology to Use
Boyd seems to have no intention of getting into online sports betting directly. And why would it, with the country’s number one brand as a partner?
However, it does aspire to take on a more central role when it comes to the online casino vertical and the Stardust brand. The upcoming platform migration will be an important part of that.
Boyd prepared to take things in-house by acquiring Pala Interactive in November 2022. Pala remains a separate division within Boyd, though its name has changed to Boyd Interactive.
Pala has a presence in New Jersey under its own brand and powers the Four Winds Online Casino in Michigan. Boyd hopes to bring the technology to a broader audience with the benefit of its extensive customer databases.
Chief Financial Officer Josh Hirsberg told investors:
We expect our online business, including sports, casino and social gaming, will continue to grow. We took an important step forward in our online growth strategy with our recent acquisition of Pala Interactive, which gives us the talent and technology to begin building our regional online casino business. While online casinos are now limited to just a few states, we believe in the long-term potential of iGaming. Owning and operating our own iGaming operation will allow us to leverage our nationwide portfolio and extensive customer database to create a profitable online casino business.
There’s no specific date for the migration yet – other than within the first half of 2023 – or details on how it will take place. However, companies typically take pains to ensure the experience causes as little disruption as possible for their users.
Existing Stardust Casino players can probably expect to need to download an app update and experience a change in their casino’s appearance and interface. However, their account info, login information and balance won’t change.