Competition in Las Vegas is as stiff as it ever was, as operators are wasting no time to prepare for a spectacular 2020. Now that this year’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E), everyone is geared up to see changes in the Strip’s landscape. While Hard Rock’s absence in Sin City will undoubtedly be noticeable, we have The Drew to look forward to. On November 5, our hopes got even higher when it was announced that poker legend Bobby Baldwin will take the reins of this highly anticipated venue.
With great ownership, Baldwin will definitely have the means to turn The Drew into a money-making machine from the get-go. A man with unparalleled experience in the gaming industry, the 69-year-old has been called “a transformative presence”. Expect him to live up to this moniker yet again, especially because he’s been in this place before. However, the stakes have never been higher.
Bobby Baldwin – The Man, the Myth, the Legend
“The Owl” has spread his wings again, making a much-anticipated return to the gaming industry. Baldwin first rose to fame as a wildcard participant in the 1977 World Series of Poker (WSOP) event. He impressed everyone by winning the Deuce to Seven Draw event, which netted him a prize of $10,000. Immediately afterward, he also took home $5,000 by willing the Seven Card Stud. It didn’t take long for him to ascend to superstardom, as he won the WSOP Main Event in 1978.
This iconic victory earned him a place in the history books by becoming the youngest-ever winner of the event, at the tender age of 28. While this record was broken by the likes of Stu Ungar, Phil Hellmuth, Peter Eastgate and, finally, Joe Cada, Bobby became an icon because of his contributions to the growing popularity of poker in the late 1970s. His success continued into the 1980s, earning him a spot in the Poker Hall of Fame.
Using his experience and savviness, Baldwin found great success as a casino executive, too. His first role was as a consultant for the Golden Nugget casino in 1982, before becoming the president of The Mirage and the Bellagio, in 1987 and 1996, respectively. Until 2018, he served as the Chief Customer Development officer for MGM, as well as the president of CityCenter. After a short break, he is set to make a splash yet again, as only The Owl can.
A New Player in Town
The location where The Drew will be located is the site of the Algiers Hotel. In 2007, construction began on the land, but all progress was put to a halt in 2009 due to a lack of funding. Initially meant to be the Fontainebleau, the property was bought when Witkoff Group LLC and Marriott International joined forces to make the acquisition.
When Steve Witkoff initially took control of this highly-anticipated venue, he intended for it to open sometime in 2020. However, delays and several changes of plans lead to a delay, with the current projections are that it will be up and running in early 2022.
Sin City natives and those enamored with her rejoiced, as The Drew will revitalize the north end of the Strip, which has become a who’s who of failed projects, empty lots and decrepit construction sites. Despite the initial excitement, there were concerns about what management will do, but it seems that everyone can sleep well now that The Drew will rest in the experienced hands of one Bobby Baldwin.
A Touching Homage
Steve Witkoff decided to rename the venue to The Drew, in honor of his late son Andrew, who lost his life to an accidental overdose in 2011. Rumors are that there will be an emphasis on creating a state-of-the-art gaming experience, as top operators will vie for the privilege to run the casino.
Witkoff himself couldn’t hold the excitement, as he lauded the Bobby Baldwin legacy both at the table and in his previous stints as an executive. The general consensus is pretty much the same, as Bobby is a surefire ticket to success, not just because of his experience, but also because of his pizzaz and the knack to attract publicity. Bellagio’s poker room is named “Bobby’s Room”, which tells you enough about the man’s impeccable legacy.
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