GOMES GAMING | News |
Philadelphia Daily News - September 10, 2010
Pair could enable new era for Atlantic City
October 05, 2010 7:09 AM by Phil Hevener
Dennis Gomes and Kevin DeSanctis may play separate pivotal roles in a possible rebirth of interest in Atlantic City development.
But how did the longtime friends begin working their respective ways toward the
moment that may see Gomes as the chief executive and owner of the old Resorts
International property and DeSanctis in a similar role at the Revel resort where efforts
continue to complete financing?
When Gomes arrived in New Jersey in the late 1970s as the head of special investigations for
the Division of Gaming Enforcement, he landed squarely in the middle of the complicated
licensing investigation that would eventually see Resorts International open in
May 1978 as the city’s first casino.
Gomes had been told he would be required to use state police personnel for the
background checks of the company and its top officials, but the former Nevada Gaming
Control Board agent who engineered the 1976 Las Vegas skimming probe that would
eventually result in the movie "Casino," resisted that thinking. He had his own ideas about
how to proceed.
They argued back and forth, Gomes eventually agreeing to use State Police IF they had
accounting degrees. He wanted personnel who not only understood the law but could
also follow financial details that would be part of the extensive investigation.
That takes care of that, he would later tell friends. No way would they come up with state
cops who also had accounting degrees.
Gomes was surprised when he eventually got a call telling him a search of personnel files
had resulted in five candidates with the necessary accounting degrees. They were assembled
for interviews and Gomes quickly found his attention drawn to the young officer who
slouched in a chair staring at the ceiling, giving the impression he would just as soon be
anywhere except where he was. This was Kevin DeSanctis who had earned his accounting
degree at Temple University.
The interviews progressed, Gomes quickly deciding that he definitely wanted DeSanctis on the DGE team.
The time came when a trip to the Bahamas was necessary. Gomes put together plans that had the look of an undercover operation. They did not want to broadcast their plans. The men and women participating in the raid on the Resorts casino there would travel as "tourists."
They dressed casually, Gomes says, sitting apart from each other during the plane trip, doing nothing to draw attention to the purpose of their trip.
Things progressed nicely and Gomes acquired information he figured would be vital to an eventual decision about the Resorts application.
But Gomes encountered a man whom he remembers as being part of some "internal police" force. They had a pointed discussion that included threats of Gomes being hauled off to local authorities. No way could that be allowed to happen, Gomes remembers, thinking the information he had acquired might suddenly become unavailable.
Was he unnecessarily paranoid? Who knows, but those were pioneering times in the gaming business.
Gomes argued that if he was arrested, the outcome might be an "international incident" that could end badly for both Gomes and the security official with whom he was having the pointed discussion. They might both lose their jobs, Gomes argued.
The man relented and Gomes went on his way, but instead of returning to his hotel or visiting local authorities, he headed for the airport.
"I was on a plane and out of there in about 20 minutes."
Back in New Jersey, the (expletive deleted) hit the fan, as Gomes tells it some 32 years later. He was not nearly as interested in the politics of the situation as he was in safeguarding information vital to the Resorts investigation.
There was a meeting of all involved, a discussion that included a heated exchange of conflicting views about what was or wasn’t important. It was directed that Gomes’s special investigations team would be dissolved even as the suitability investigation continued.
DeSanctis stepped into the middle of the argument with the observation that he was seeing an example of "politics" at its worst. DeSanctis said he had agreed to join the DGE team because he respected Gomes’s approach to the job at hand and was learning from it.
New Jersey officials who maintained an appreciation for the importance of politics scowled at this reasoning.
As for Gomes, he could see the writing on the wall. It was time to leave. "I told Kevin that his career with the state police was in bad shape at that point and he should come back to Nevada with me."
Probably a good idea and DeSanctis agreed.
A senior police official growled, "You two are never going to work in this state again," a prediction that proved to be absolutely inaccurate.
Gomes returned to Nevada where he was hired to run the casinos of the late Major Riddle, a job that gave him the chance to install DeSanctis as the GM at one of the group’s gambling halls. Over the next decade they worked together in the Hilton, Summa and Golden Nugget organizations before being separately hired to run two of Donald Trump’s Atlantic City resorts.
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