Who remembers when the Stardust Casino was imploded on March 13, 2007?
And when the building came crashing down on the Las Vegas Strip, it seemed like the Stardust name was gone with it.
Well, here we are in 2021, and guess what name is back in business?
OK. An NJ online casino app doesn’t exactly measure up with a Las Vegas casino resort, but nostalgia is nostalgia.
Stardust Casino is the rebranded version of the former Betfair casino. The product is a joint venture between FanDuel Group and Boyd Gaming Corporation. And it’s available in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania markets, officially launching on April 19.
And like with Betfair, it falls under the Golden Nugget Online Gaming license.
To get a better idea of what the product is all about and how things are going so far, NJ Gambling Sites caught up with Jesse Chemtob, GM of casino at FanDuel Group.
Farewell Betfair, hello Stardust
Those who keep track of NJ online casino apps are aware the Betfair brand is one of the originals, launching in 2013.
However, it has a bigger following overseas than here in the United States.
As far as Stardust goes, it’s really too early to accurately judge how well it’s performing in the mature Garden State market. However, Chemtob said overall the feedback has been pretty positive.
He noted they knew going in there would be a segment of the casino audience that would have some recognition with the Stardust brand.
“… Going in, like with any rebrand, there’s a kind of risk that people are confused, but by all accounts, the rebrand for us went pretty smoothly,” said Chemtob. “Users kind of woke up on the day of the rebrand and they were able to update their Betfair app to a Stardust branded app. It was pretty seamless from that perspective.”
Instead of surprising existing Betfair customers, the FanDuel team took the change-is-coming approach. Communicating with the customer base about the rebrand was a big part of it.
And the login credentials customers used for Betfair are still good with the Stardust brand.
“… By all accounts, it’s been pretty smooth, and feedback has been pretty positive. Just anecdotally we’ve been getting feedback from customers that they like the new look and feel, and the different front end of the casino experience. We’re pretty pleased, to be honest,” said Chemtob.
Stardust users based in New Jersey currently can choose from more than 400 games.
The FanDuel-Boyd-Stardust connection
So those familiar with Las Vegas history know the Stardust is a former Boyd Gaming property.
Plus, FanDuel and Boyd have an existing relationship. Boyd also owns Valley Forge Casino Resort, which is home to a FanDuel Sportsbook.
FanDuel Casino is connected to the same land-based partnership.
Call the Stardust Casino the latest phase to this “great partnership with Boyd.”
“…We have this relationship with them and we really looked at, Stardust as a means to be able to tap into a meaningful segment of the casino market, aside from just the sports-led casino players,” said Chemtob. “And that’s really what drove the decision around Stardust and how we landed on that with Boyd. It’s really a means to be able to tap into a wider casino customer base.”
Co-existence of FanDuel and Stardust casinos
Like Pennsylvania, New Jersey customers have access to two different casino brands under the FanDuel Group umbrella.
FanDuel Sportsbook mobile customers who click on the casino icon are transferred to FanDuel Casino. However, desktop/web browser users are sent to Stardust.
In the Garden State, even the FanDuel Casino option is still fairly new as the change happened earlier this year. Previously, slots and table game players would be sent to Betfair.
So for those wondering if one casino is more popular than the other, FanDuel Group views the situation from a different perspective. Chemtob said, “We look at them as co-existing with somewhat distinct customer bases.”
On one side there is the FanDuel casino that is “more cross-sell driven, will be more male-skewing, and kind of look more similar to the composition of the sportsbook customer base. More male-skewing, maybe a bit younger.”
However, Stardust users, at least since the rebrand, are both male and female.
“When you look at the Stardust customer base, previously the Betfair customer base, it was a bit more balanced in terms of the male, female split, and skewed a bit older than the cross-sell audience,” said Chemtob.
“… For the cross-sell audience, it’s more table games led, given the male skew. And Stardust it’s more slots led given the mix of male-female. We think there are two distinct audiences there that are worth going after.”
Bringing Las Vegas nostalgia back to life
In the NJ online casino world, the Stardust name is still the newbie. And the industry is an extremely competitive one with heavyweights like Golden Nugget online casino and BetMGM leading the way.
However, there are some Garden State customers extremely familiar with the Stardust name. This is especially true for those fond of old Las Vegas nostalgia.
The property, which opened in 1958, enjoyed nearly a 50-year run on the North end of the Las Vegas Strip. The land where it once stood is where Resorts World Las Vegas is opening next month.
So as a result of this rich history, the Stardust online casino is in a different category than say an online operator entering the market from Europe.
“Obviously, we’re not starting from zero because there is some brand recognition with Stardust, which is a good thing. But we are starting from a place where we need to build up that brand affinity in New Jersey for the Stardust brand, amongst this wider casino consumer.”
And for those players unfamiliar with the classic Stardust name, the plan is to build awareness and comfortability.
“… Obviously there’s a lot of competition now, but I don’t think the strategy is dissimilar. We just have a bit more to talk about in terms of the brand equity of Stardust, and this nostalgia element of old Las Vegas that we think really resonates with people,” said Chemtob.
Stardust sticking with NJ and PA, for now
Unlike online sports betting, the US is still rather limited when it comes to online casino markets. Besides NJ and PA, Michigan is the newcomer while West Virginia has limited offerings.
Of course, there is the possibility more states could pass legislation down the road, potentially opening the door for Stardust to build a bigger following.
FanDuel is live in Michigan, but the company has no plans to roll out the Stardust app there.
“Right now, we’re not considering a separate stand-alone brand approach in Michigan. But in future states, we’re going to see how it goes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” said Chemtob.