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GOMES GAMING | News | GGB News - August 27, 2010

Go-Go Gomes
By Staff Fri, Aug 27, 2010

Anyone who has ever worked for Dennis Gomes knows his love of karate. In most of the casinos he’s led, classes have been set up for executives to learn the great art of self-defense, which Gomes uses to teach business lessons to his troops. Gomes will need all that skill and more when he is approved to buy Resorts Atlantic City, the first casino to open on the Boardwalk in 1978.

In Resorts, Gomes is getting the original Atlantic City casino, but he’s also getting a slew of headaches. The property has seen steadily decreasing revenue over the past two years and the previous owner, Colony Capital, turned the property over to its lenders nine months ago because of its declining fortunes. Operated under Colony and the lenders by former Trump executive Nicholas Ribis, Resorts has a split personality. The old hotel—known as Haddon Hall in pre-casino days—has small rooms, narrow corridors and a challenging layout. A new expansion, opened in 2005, is sleek and modern, with some of the largest rooms in the city. It’s art deco style blends well with the older structure—so well in fact that many observers forget that it was built after the opening of the Borgata and applied many lessons from that successful Atlantic City property.

Gomes, a noted former regulator in Nevada and New Jersey whose investigation into Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal and the Stardust routed one of the last vestiges of organized crime in Nevada casinos (the subject of the book and movie of the same name, Casino), is known for his knowledge, innovation and enthusiasm. After resigning as a regulator, he went to work for Steve Wynn, Barron Hilton and Donald Trump. His last full-time job was operating the Tropicana and directing the construction of its highly successful shopping area, the Quarter, and a new hotel tower. He had been associated with the Cordish Companies for several years until 2009, when the two split.

Since his time at the Tropicana, Gomes has been one of the biggest cheerleaders for Atlantic City. He disputes the fact that the casino industry in the city is doomed to shrink because of regional competition and his purchase of Resorts is a perfect way to prove his point.

“"I believe in this property,” Gomes said in a statement. “It heralded the beginning of casino gaming in the East and has always had a special place in my heart.”

“We are going to bring it back to life with even more energy and vitality than it possessed at its creation in 1978,” he continued. “I promise everyone that it will ultimately be the place to be and to be seen and will be the center of fun and excitement in our fabulous city.”

Gomes has chaired a committee set up by Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford to decide how to prioritize necessities to improve the city and attract more visitors. He said he completely backs plans by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to create a tourism zone in Atlantic City that will be controlled by a quasi-public agency.

“I am also encouraged by the recognition of our governor and legislators that Atlantic City is a tremendous asset to the state of New Jersey and its economy,” he said. “They realize the need for the government to partner with the casino industry in order to nurture and revitalize Atlantic City during the national economic downturn we are facing.”

Ribis has been operating the property for the lien-holder, Credit Suisse Group. He had expressed interest in buying the property, but Gomes has apparently beat him to the punch. Although Gomes would only say that he paid less than the $140 million that Colony Capital paid to acquire the property, some experts speculate that his purchase price could be as little as $50 million.

While the deal is subject to the approval of the Casino Control Commission, the board’s chairwoman was excited about the agreement.

“This investment is a clear indication that there is a great deal of potential in this market,” said Linda Kassekert. “We are hopeful that this will not only revitalize Resorts, but all of Atlantic City.”

In addition to more than 900 rooms and 100,000 square feed of casino space, Resorts Atlantic City also includes more than 10 acres of land. The property employees 2,100 workers.


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