Category Archives: Gambling

Boyd Gaming Launches Stardust Social Casino App

The Stardust was a beloved Las Vegas casino, and fans looking for a fix can now download a free social app named after the iconic resort, Stardust Social Casino.

The Stardust app is free to play and available on iOS and Android mobile platforms.

Stardust app

Do not ask why three of Boyd’s casinos—Main Street Station, Fremont and The Cal—somehow got on The Strip. It’s Stardust magic.

A casino app serves a number of purposes for a casino company. It gives casinos a platform to market to their customers, of course, but in the case of a social app, the hope is also to already be on player smartphones when social casinos can serve as real online casinos, with actual money involved.

Online casinos are already legal in a few states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia. Actually, it’s not “including.” That’s it.

Online casinos aren’t yet legal in Nevada. Thanks, Uncle Sheldon. (The casino mogul has lobbied relentlessly against legalizing any form of Internet gambling.)

Boyd Gaming has a number of brick-and-mortar casinos in Pennsylvania and other states, so the opportunity to make the Stardust app a new source of gambling revenue is not too far down the road.

The Stardust app takes care to note: “The games do not offer real money gambling or an opportunity to win real money or prizes. Practice or success at social casino gaming does not imply future success at real money gambling.”

For now, anyway.

Orleans Stardust slots

Fun fact: The Orleans, a Boyd Gaming casino, has a number of active slot machines rescued from the Stardust.

The resurfacing of the Stardust name is bittersweet, of course.

The Stardust opened on July 2, 1958 and was purchased by Boyd Gaming in 1985.

Stardust closed on November 1, 2006. It was imploded on March 13, 2007, to make way for a new Boyd Gaming project, Echelon Place.

Echelon Place was abandoned in 2008 due to the economic downturn, and is now the site of Resort World.

In hindsight, Stardust was closed and demolished for no good reason, but Vegas was built on short memories, so let’s put all that behind us and Stardust again.

The Stardust Social Casino is touted as being a way for loyalty club members to get rewards and benefits at Boyd Gaming casinos across the country, along with the enjoyment of the games themselves.

While social games are free, they offer players ways to purchase credits. Those purchases will earn points and Tier Credits within the B Connected loyalty club program.

The app has a fair number of game options, many immediately recognizable to slot fans.

Stardust casino app

We count 16 games to start. That should keep you busy.

B Connected loyalty club members will want to log in with their member number right up front in case any of those promised perks come to pass. There’s also the option to play as a “Guest.”

Prior to entering the social casino proper, there’s a spin to get credits, a clever incentive for players to use the app daily.

The gameplay is fairly straightforward, but here’s a quick tutorial: 1) Push “Spin.” 2) Repeat.

Please feel free to review our tutorial prior to downloading the app.

Stardust app

Shout-out to some graphic designer with carpal tunnel right now.

Each game has the option to see more information about paytables and game rules. From what we could see, the games are pretty true to the real world versions of the slots.

“Free social casino” may not precisely describe the Stardust app, or any social app, really. First, “social” games aren’t social. It’s you and your phone. Second, slots are just one part of a casino. Third, the games are only free if you play until you’re out of credits and stop.

Social casino games make a surprisingly large amount of money from people buying virtual credits, despite the fact there’s no monetary benefit of doing so. You can only get a virtual jackpot with virtual credits.

On the bright side, you don’t have to pay taxes on a virtual handpay.

No, not everyone purchases virtual credits. They don’t need to. If just one percent of customers purchase credits, it can generate a hefty amount of revenue. We’ve always said gambling is about the fun, not the winning and losing, and virtual credits keeps the fun flowing.

Stardust app

Don’t laugh. You blow $20 in a real casino in two minutes.

While the Stardust app is being touted as “new,” there was actually another attempt to relaunch the Stardust brand online in the form of a Facebook app in 2013. (See photo, below.)

The Stardust Facebook app was available in the U.K., Canada and Australia, but a U.S. version failed to materialize, as far as we know.

Stardust virtual casino

The first attempt at a Stardust virtual casino imploded.

Check out Boyd Gaming’s new Stardust Social Casino app and let us know what you think.

Social casino apps are a way to stay connected to Vegas and your favorite games, even when you can’t be in Vegas.

Casino Royale Loses Table Games, Gains Photo Op

It’s a time-honored tradition to hit Casino Royale for craps, but guests will have to set aside that tradition for now.

The fabled Casino Royale continues to be an oddity on The Strip. It’s small. It’s cheap. And it has no resort fees.

Now, Casino Royale also has no table games.

Casino Royale

Thanks for trying to ruin everything, COVID-19.

Big thanks to John M. on Twitter for letting us know about this change at a beloved Strip fixture.

Staffers at Casino Royale say the removal of table games was the result of soft demand given the relatively high cost of labor to run games like craps. Player capacity limits at table games make the profit margin even more marginal.

Some are saying the tables are gone for good, but we hear they’ll be back in time, based upon demand.

In the meantime, the dogs are still priced right.

Casino Royale

We are not going to point out these foot-longs were $1.99 for years.

We have lots of fond memories of hours-long craps sessions at Casino Royale, along with throngs of other enthusiastic dice fans.

Some of the dealers were a tad surly, but that was part of the fun. Many were veterans of the game, with colorful banter, a lot of patience with newbies and an ability to calculate pay-outs even MIT students would envy.

Here’s a fun fact we learned during our visit to Casino Royale! As is the case in a number of Las Vegas casinos, Casino Royale has turned off some of its slot machines due to social distancing.

What we didn’t know is if you turn off a Wheel of Fortune machine, the reels default to three Wheel of Fortune symbols.

Casino Royale

Enough to make your heart stop for a second.

Yep, there are a bunch of machines at Casino Royale that look like somebody just won a progressive jackpot worth millions of dollars.

Casino Royale WoF

If you’re into pranking friends, this is one of the best free photo ops in Vegas.

It’s a strange time in Vegas, and let’s hope changes like the removal of table games at Casino Royale are only temporary.

Gaming Control Board Requires Table Games Players to Wear Masks

These are surreal times, and here’s more evidence: Nevada’s Gaming Control Board is now mandating guests wear masks at casino table games when there’s no barrier between themselves and dealers.

The move has the stated purpose of “mitigating the spread of COVID-19 between people who are in close contact with each other for at least 15 minutes.”

Las Vegas smizing

This is not a customer customer, but you get the idea.

The mandate came down from the Gaming Control Board on June 17, 2020, and casinos immediately began enforcing the new rule.

The new mask rule applies only to those patrons who are playing table games. Masks are recommended, but not mandatory, for other casino guests.

Casinos are required to provide masks for table games players upon request.

Bellagio Plexiglas dividers

Some of the aforementioned barriers.

Casino employees, including dealers, are already required to wear masks. The new protocol began when Las Vegas casinos reopened after a two-month shutdown on June 4, 2020.

Here’s a look at the notice from the Gaming Control Board.

Table games masks

Gaming should try Comic Sans, just to change this up a little.

The mask requirement “applies to table and card game players, spectators and any other person within six feet of any table or card game.”

Also falling firmly into the “surreal” category, the notice also included this gem: “Musical performances, live entertainment, concerts, competitions, sporting events, and any events with live performances may resume, but shall remain closed for public attendance.”

As with everything that’s happened around the COVID-19 crisis, casino guests seem to be taking these restrictions in stride. It’s created some chaos for casinos, but they understand the need to make their guests feel comfortable and safe.

Everyone understands these changes in Las Vegas casinos are temporary. And the temporarier the better.

World Series of Poker 2020 to Take Place Online

The best-known poker tournament series in the world, the World Series of Poker (WSOP), will happen entirely online this year due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The World Series of Poker, which typically happens at Rio Las Vegas, may have been postponed, but now players will have a chance to pursue a coveted WSOP bracelet from home for the first time.

The online WSOP will take place over two months, starting July 1, 2020. There will be 85 WSOP bracelets up for grabs.

WSOP’s biggest event, the No Limit Hold’em Championship, starts July 31.

WSOP chips

It won’t be the same this year, but how many things are?

WSOP predicts this will be “the largest online tournament series of all time” with the “chance to win gold bracelet glory across two distinct gaming platforms, WSOP.com and GGPoker.”

The initial phase of the tournament will include one bracelet event per day during July on WSOP.com.

Caveat: WSOP.com allows play from customers geo-located in Nevada and New Jersey.

WSOP dogs

Yes, we took this photo of dogs playing poker at the World Series of Poker. Herding cats is easier.

On July 19, 2020, bracelet tournaments will take place on GGPoker Network. This is the first time players outside the U.S. have been able to complete for an official WSOP bracelet online. (U.S. players can’t take part in the GGPoker tournaments.) The international series runs through September 6, 2020.

According to the WSOP, GGPoker just wrapped up its WSOP Online Circuit Event, with a total series prize pool of more than $134 million.

Clearly, poker’s still a thing.

Find out more about the World Series of Poker Online tournament at the WSOP’s official Web site.

It’s going to be a strange summer in Las Vegas, but it would’ve been even stranger without the World Series of Poker.

Governor Sets June 4 Target for Reopening Las Vegas Casinos

Nevada’s Governor Steve Sisolak says the target for reopening Las Vegas casinos is June 4, 2020.

Opening casinos on June 4 would mean the end of an agonizing, 486-month shutdown of the world’s most important industry aside from the manufacturing of Captain Morgan spiced rum.

Sisolak Tweet

When the fun starts.

The Governor is expected to announce the next phase of Nevada’s reopening plan at a new conference on May 26, 2020.

The announcement could put to rest a metric hell-ton of speculation about when Las Vegas casinos will reopen.

When casinos get the green light from the Governor and Nevada Gaming Control Board, it won’t mean all the casinos will open, of course.

Several are expected to open immediately, others will wait and reopen based upon demand.

Big casino companies are moving guests with reservations at closed hotels to those opening sooner. For example, guests with reservations at MGM Resorts hotels are being offered accommodations at Bellagio, New York-New York and MGM Grand.

At Caesars Entertainment, Caesars Palace and Flamingo will open first.

Caesars

Caesars Palace will open ahead of many on The Strip. A head. Please try and keep up.

In spectacular news, MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment will provide free parking for the first time since 2016.

Most downtown casinos are expected to open right away, other than those in the Boyd Gaming family (Fremont, The Cal and Main Street Station).

Key to the reopening Las Vegas casinos, of course, is doing it safely.

All the major casinos have created safety plans with extensive information about new protocols being instituted to ensure everyone can debauch with confidence.

Find the plans here:

googie Wynn Resorts
googie MGM Resorts
googie Caesars Entertainment
googie Las Vegas Sands (Venetian/Palazzo)
googie Station Casinos (.pdf)
googie The Strat (Golden Entertainment)
googie Sahara
googie Cosmopolitan

Many of the safety plans overlap, and Las Vegas visitors will have some minor inconveniences, but for the most part, it will be business as usual for gamblers. Employees will be wearing masks. Temperatures may be taken. Groups will be encouraged not to congregate.

On the bright side, more elbow room, less noise and smoke!

Despite the seemingly endless shutdown of Las Vegas casinos, we’re nearly out of the woods.

There’s a lot of pent up demand, and we’re ready to pent the hell out of Vegas, again.

ATMs at Las Vegas Casino Table Games Are Officially a Thing

The D casino announced it now offers what amounts to ATMs at its table games, and the Internet sort of lost its mind.

In a news release, The D shared it has “officially debuted a new automated cashless gaming system, ACS PlayOn, for all table games.”

The release continues, “Offering a convenient experience for guests, PlayOn is a modern technology that allows players to purchase casino chips using a debit card, eliminating the need to use an ATM machine or cashier’s window between hands.”

Cue the mind-losing.

Here’s a look at the kerfuffle-causer in question.

cashless table game system

Reminder: PIN stands for “personal identification number,” so please don’t say “PIN number.” It’s like saying “please RSVP.” Really annoying.

Simply put, when you’re at the table (roulette, craps, blackjack, whatever), you can use your debit card to get chips.

That’s pretty much it.

Yes, there’s a fee. We know how you are.

The fee is $4, plus 2.5% of whatever you withdraw. So, for $100, that’s a total of $6.50, or about the same as an ATM fee. (Reminder: ATM stands for “automated teller machine,” so please don’t say “ATM machine.” Sorry to call you out, news release, but common mistake.)

It’s worth noting the PlayOn machines don’t accept credit cards. They also won’t let you exceed your debit card’s maximum daily withdrawal limit.

This seemingly straightforward service has already been in place at Palms since December 2019. The system will also be available at Golden Gate (same owners as The D) and The Strat in the next few days (as yet unannounced).

News of the system’s debut at The D seems to have hit a nerve.

Most of the feedback on the Twitters relates to the belief people will gamble more than they typically would because the cashless system makes money (or chips) too readily available.

There was also some discussion of the fee being too high. At The D, players can withdraw $50-$3,000. The 2.5% fee on $3,000 would be $75, presumably.

We didn’t read the fine print. We were drunk. Full disclosure: We still are. You’re not our mom.

Our brilliant response to most of the criticism of this system was, “It’s an ATM, just closer.”

A good number of people expressed that in the heat of the moment, a player having to stand up and walk to an ATM might give them time to ponder their life choices and avoid the impulse to throw good money after bad.

Interestingly, few mentioned people often win in casinos when they throw good money after bad. Glass half empty, much?

The controversy about “tabletop ATMs” in casinos isn’t new. When Palms got its system in 2019, the news coverage ranged from balanced to outright damning.

All we know for sure is if we’re playing blackjack and out of cash but want to double down, now we can do it without leaving the table (and without borrowing the money using a “marker,” or casino credit).

We’d love to hear your thoughts about this, as the amount of negative feedback was genuinely surprising, and we tend to know everything.

Another disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience. The D is a member casino of that organization. Our opinions are our own.

Here’s the official site for PlayOn, the cashless casino table games system we expect is here to stay.