Bobby Baldwin, former CEO of MGM Resorts, has been hired by the Witkoff Group for a similar role in the upcoming Drew Las Vegas, a luxury hotel and casino that, if all goes as planned, will open in 2022.
Drew, as it is affectionately known, is the new name for the estate once called Fontainbleau. However, the Fontainbleau, which was partially built more than ten years ago, was never completed. The company that originally built the building filed for bankruptcy in 2009. In the same year, due to a lack of adequate financial planning, construction was suspended.
Fontainbleau was empty, about 70 percent complete, on the north side of the Las Vegas Strip. It's a beautiful, luxurious building, but in 12 years of existence, no customer has come.
We call upon the poker master
Bobby Baldwin was the champion of the 1978 World Series of Poker Main Event. He is one of the most legendary poker players of all time and as such is a member of the prestigious Poker Hall of Fame.
But he's been just as successful outside of the poker world. As a corporate director, he has helped with the development of many Las Vegas casinos and real estate, such as Mirage and Aria Resort and Casino.
Most recently, he served as CEO of CityCenter, a hotel and casino center on the Las Vegas Strip. He is also the namesake of one of the world's most famous poker rooms - Bobby's Room - located in the magnificent Bellagio, MGM's estate on the Strip.
Baldwin, 70, reportedly had an argument with MGM in 2018. He mysteriously resigned from his management position as if out of nowhere. Few were expecting to leave, and it was clear that there was some reluctance between the former poker world champion and the major casino brand.
One year after leaving MGM Resorts, Baldwin returned to business. Big stakes poker is taking over as The Drew's CEO and vice president, which plans to open its doors in 2022. Assuming, of course, that construction and financing go according to plan this time.
The story of The Drew Las Vegas
Drew was originally named Fontainbleau when construction began in 2007. It was to be the sister property of the Fontainbleau Miami Beach Hotel.
However, just two years after construction was completed, after the building was approximately 70 percent complete, the project went bankrupt. Since then, the tall hotel on the Las Vegas Strip has stood empty, overlooking one of America's most famous roads.
In August 2017, the Witkoff Group investment firm purchased the property for $ 600 million with the intention of completing the construction and final opening. A specific opening date has yet to be determined, but builders are shooting for a while in 2022.
The name of the hotel changed from Fontainbleau to The Drew Las Vegas as the new owner, Steve Witkoff, wanted to honor his deceased child. Witkoff's son Andrew (short for "Drew") died in 2011 of an OxyContin overdose.
Timber is expected to cost around $ 1.2 billion to complete. So, given a $ 600 million purchase price, the new owners will end up paying almost $ 2 billion to open a facility that has been empty for ten years.
But Witkoff is not going to lose any money on this investment. He is expecting a revival at the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip, an area of the Strip that has been plagued by problems in recent years as real estate in this area is becoming obsolete.
If Witkoff expects this to be a successful business venture, he will need a bit of luck and a talented person. This includes Bobby Baldwin, the poker master and seasoned corporate director in the casino niche.