Home Gomes Gaming Founders About Gomes Gaming Gomes Gaming Experience Gomes Gaming Services Gomes Gaming Philosophy Gomes Gaming News ontact Gomes Gaming



6/16/2008 5:00:00 PM  

Keeping Count

Casino chief executive brings extensive accounting credentials to Indiana Live!

B.J. Fairchild-Newman
Staff Writer

As the new Indiana Live! Casino begins to generate millions of dollars in expected revenue for state, city and county governments, the presence of Dennis Gomes is intended to help to account for every penny that passes through the slot machines.

Gomes is chief executive officer and a partner in The Gomes Gaming Management Company, the company managing the casino for Indiana Downs, which owns the casino. He brings to his job a rich history of law enforcement and years of managing casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas during his 35-year career.

Dennis Gomes (right), President, CEO and Owner of Gomes Gaming, Inc., brings a strong background in gaming law enforcement and managing casinos to his job. His son, Aaron Gomes, (left) also is a casino executive. Dayla Thurston

When Indiana Live! opened to the public on Monday, Gomes said he was extremely pleased with the lack of problems that developed during the day, calling it "one of the smoothest openings" that he could remember. He remarked on the "great team of people" working at the facility under the day-to-day management of casino general manager Mark Hemmerle and mentioned the "strong Indiana work ethic."

"What I like about people from around here, the people we have working here, is that they are what they say they are," Gomes said. "They don't have a hidden agenda. If they tell you that they are excited about their jobs and glad to be working at the casino, they really mean it."

He said that prior to the opening of the casino, he talked to several of the cocktail servers who told him how nervous they were, and Gomes was impressed that the women were worried about doing a good job.

"They were so serious and so concerned because they wanted to do so well," he said. "I told them not to worry. You will do a good job if your heart is in the right place."

Gomes expressed his confidence in David Gentile, a former FBI agent who is Indiana Live!'s head of corporate security and surveillance, and it is a job he is certainly qualified to critique. Gomes started his career in casinos as a law enforcement officer in Las Vegas, working for Nevada Gov. Michael Callahan, who recruited Gomes to "clean up the casinos" in the early 1970s. Gomes said he knows what is necessary to keep a casino in compliance with state laws and free from corrupt influences.

Gomes dreamed for years about a career as an FBI agent and became an accountant expressly so he could get a job with the federal agency, which insisted at that time that its agents were educated as lawyers or accountants before they could apply. Even though he was working with a prestigious accounting firm after becoming a certified public accountant, Gomes hated the job where he was tied behind a desk, and he jumped at the chance to work in law enforcement.

He was willing to give up a lucrative job in accounting with an international firm because saving the underdog and defeating bullies always appealed to him.

"My father was cheated by a man who stole from his business," Gomes said. "That man never went to justice, and this made me mad. Someone has to protect the innocent."

Life on the edge

Gomes took on organized crime in the Las Vegas casinos at the age of 25, but he said he never really thought about how dangerous it was or that he should be afraid.

What did surprise Gomes was the brutality of the mob element and "the lengths that these people would go to get what they wanted. I had no idea how rough it would get," Gomes said.

The 1995 Martin Scorsese movie "Casino" is based on the real-life story of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who ran the Stardust, Fremont and the Hacienda casinos in Las Vegas for the Chicago mob from the 1970s until the early 1980s. The film is based in part on the investigation of the Stardust Casino that Gomes led while he was working with the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and he said the movie does a good job of explaining what he and his investigators were up against at that time.

The murdering sociopath Tony Spilotro is portrayed in the movie by Joe Pesci as a sadistic killer who leaves a trail of dead and tortured bodies in his wake, and Gomes said the real Spilotro was even more ruthless than the movie portrayal."

My wife was worried about me," Gomes said, "but the mob was killing their own people, not the cops."

He remembers one "snitch" who always met him in the Nevada desert to give him information, but one day the informant showed up in Gomes' office."

I told him to get out and never come back, that the mob would kill him if they saw him in my office, but he wouldn't listen," Gomes said.

Later, Gomes said the man's body was found in the desert, and his head was found on the freeway in New Jersey."I was 25; I thought I could do anything," Gomes said with a laugh. "I liked the rush of adrenaline, life on the edge."

Doing what was right

Despite his boredom with accounting, Gomes said his accounting background made him more efficient in his job as chief of audits and special investigations with the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Gov. Callahan wanted Gomes and his team to find out how organized crime was skimming money out of several Nevada casinos and stop it.

"Michael Callahan was my hero," Gomes said. "He was all about ethics and doing what was right."

When he was growing up during the 1950s and 1960s, Gomes said it was common knowledge that the mafia was involved in some of the casinos and that a number of them were fronts for the mob. He said the Las Vegas games themselves were considered legitimate and fair in most cases, but the mafia was skimming off money from the gambling profits, which led to less money going to the state of Nevada's tax coffers.

The mob stranglehold on some of the casinos was largely broken by using the information about the mobsters and what was going on in the casinos that was supplied by Gomes' network of paid informants. He was also able to convince the Nevada Legislature to authorize more agents to help him monitor the casinos.

Gomes and his agents discovered that money was being funneled from the Stardust back to the Chicago mob through the use of illegal scales that were used to weigh the change from the slot machines in the Stardust accounting room. A surprise raid on the accounting rooms at the casino exposed what they were doing and led to the vice president of slots leaving the country in a hurry and the arrests of many of those involved.

Gomes said the only way to avoid the kind of graft that formerly plagued the Las Vegas casinos is to enforce strong internal controls on the handling of the gambling money. Thorough background checks can keep unsavory types of criminals off the casino payrolls and constant supervision helps keep people honest, he said.

Gomes said he helped devise some of the internal-control procedures that are used in casinos today. This includes constant surveillance when money is transferred from the slot machines to the cage to be counted and specific procedures to get people in and out of the counting room.

"There are people constantly thinking of sophisticated new ways to cheat," Gomes admitted, "so we have to stay ahead of them."

These internal-control procedures are very important, Gomes said, because "legitimate citizens need to know they are getting their fair share" of the slot machine money owed in taxes to their state, city and county governments.

Gomes is pleased his son, Aaron, has followed him into the casino business and is currently vice president of operations and marketing for The Gomes Gaming Management Companyand is working in Shelbyville with his father. After working for the MGM Mirage and completing internships in gaming, Aaron is considered to be an expert in slot marketing and selected the $30 million worth of slot machines needed for Indiana Live!

<<Back to News



Publication: Dennis Gomes' Leadership Style written by Professor Joseph Tormey

Click Here




© 2010 Gomes Gaming