Asking me to name my favorite Atlantic City casino is like asking me to name the best show I’ve ever seen.
It can’t be done.
Just as every great show has that one certain something that gives it its individuality, each of the city’s 11 casino hotels has a personality that makes it stand on its own, at least for me.
For reasons that are as professional as they are sometimes personal, I’ve always maintained that each casino has one quality that sets it apart from the others. Yet none have — and probably never will — achieved “favored” status with me.
It’s like me asking you to name your favorite kid.
But there is one property that will forever have a very special place in my heart, and that’s Resorts Atlantic City.
Resorts and I go way back. Hell, we started out in this town together. In 1975, as a young reporter for The Press of Atlantic City, I covered some of the stories when Resorts International, Inc. began bankrolling the campaign that ultimately won voter approval for legal gaming here in 1976.
And when I was part of the team that covered the opening of Resorts in May 1978, the focus of my reporting shifted that weekend from general news and features to entertainment.
Quite literally, my career as both a print and television entertainment reporter was born at Resorts. I did my first TV demo tape at Resorts; my first live shots on national television originated from Resorts during Merv Griffin’s New Year’s Eve specials.
So the dire predictions that Resorts was in imminent danger of complete financial collapse were unsettling, to say the least. It brought back the same feelings as when the state forced the Atlantis (nee Playboy) to close in 1989, or when Pinnacle closed the Sands four years ago and imploded a small but perfectly good casino hotel before hitting the financial skids and slinking out of town, leaving behind a great big and unsightly gap in Atlantic City’s smile.
But with the recent announcement that seasoned and respected casino operator Dennis Gomes was partnering with Atlantic City native Morris Bailey, who’s now a New York real estate baron, to buy Resorts, I breathed a little sigh of relief.
In a real-life Monopoly move that sounds like the steal of the century, Gomes and Bailey took Resorts off the hands of the lenders holding the paper for a mere $35 million. That’s pocket change in the world of multi-billion-dollar casino resorts.
Gomes is exactly what Resorts needs. If anyone can turn the place around and restore it to profitability and respect, it would be the man who used everything from Rube Goldberg-like gaming devices to chickens that played Tic-Tac-Toe to lure gamers to the Tropicana between 1995 and 2005, when he ran the Trop.
Gomes, a martial-arts expert, honed his reputation as a casino marketing whiz during 30 years in the gaming business in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. His casino promotions and stunts have occasionally made him seem like a combination of P.T. Barnum and Bruce Lee.
But Gomes will have his work cut out for him at Resorts. He’s already said he wants to use proven traffic-drivers, like entertainment and name-branded restaurants, to put the casino back on the public’s radar. And by only paying $35 million for the property, that should free up plenty of investment money to pump into entertainment and dining.
Resorts’ primary entertainment venue, the Superstar Theater, presents something of a challenge as it has no fly loft above the stage.
Still, money talks, and some of the biggest names in the business have worked around whatever physical limitations the room might have. So it should be a relatively simple matter for Gomes to put his mark on entertainment at the casino as long as he waves enough money.
It’s almost ironic that Gomes now owns Resorts because of his ties to the Taj. Gomes ran the Taj — which is connected by bridges to Resorts and Showboat — between 1991 and 1993. There was no love lost between Gomes’ boss, Donald Trump, and Resorts’ owner, the late Merv Griffin, who had wrestled control of Resorts away from Trump in 1988.
But knowing Merv, he’d probably approve of Gomes’ purchase of his former casino. With their respective flairs for marketing and the dramatic, plus his business skills, Gomes probably has more in common with Griffin than he ever imagined.
When we went to the Family Secrets Mob trial it was a surreal experience. I guess it was during the time 'The Sopranos' was really big. So when I walked in, I expected it, I think to be a little more like traffic court or something like that, that I was familiar with, but it was very much like a scene out of 'The Sopranos.'
“I had my entire career here in Atlantic City, and I feel almost an allegiance to the city.”
Dennis Gomes, CEO and co-owner of Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel, died overnight on Thursday, Feb. 23, of unconfirmed causes, according to reports and information released by Resorts spokeswoman Courtney Birmingham.
One new attraction that may have slipped under the radar is the elegant entertainment at the popular Sunday Brunch...
“I’m reaching back before casinos and really even before I was born. Before gambling when every big star would make Atlantic City a stop. From Jerry Lewis to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra when he played the 500 Club. I’m reaching back to the Latin Casino — which was actually in Cherry Hill — but that style. We’re not a supper club per se, but that style of entertainment.”
Thirty-three years ago this weekend, Atlantic City embarked on an experiment to use casino gambling to reverse the sagging fortunes of the one-time grand dame of America’s seashore resorts, who had been down on her luck for a couple of ...
Gallagher’s exclusively utilizes open-flame charcoal cooking devices. They impart a distinctly different - authentic, in our opinion - sear and taste to prime beef. Throw in the fact that they authored our town’s first-ever Burger Bar, and you have a pretty formidable operation.
The anticipation began with the Atlantic City Moonshine Follies billboard that showed off a leggy dancer’s lovely derriere. Now that the musical revue is playing at Resorts Superstar Theater, we can report that the athleticism of the dancers was not exaggerated, with costumes that accentuate the fine figures on display.
“I was captivated by their passion and talent,” Dennis Gomes tells AC Weekly. “Some people have that it quality that puts them in a special category and Will is definitely one of those people. It is an honor to have him playing in my casino.”
"Since I left Tropicana I’d seen Dennis Gomes at the various places where I’ve worked, or just out in public, and every time I’d see him he’d say, ‘You know, when I get back into Atlantic City, you’re back."
Since Gomes has taken over, however, Powell says that he and Saunders have both been told that as long as they don't violate the instrument, the atmosphere and people's ears, that they can play. And now they can play for tips.
“I only wore this suit for you guys,” says Gomes, tugging at his collar. “When I’m working, you’ll never catch me in a suit.”
Under new owner Dennis Gomes, Resorts Casino Hotel may have plans to theme its entire operation in a 1920s motif — capitalizing on the Prohibition-era A.C. publicized by HBO’s 'Boardwalk Empire' and it’s own period-appropriate art-deco architecture — but it’s latest promotion definitely screams 21st Century.
Resorts is under new ownership and is looking to spiff up the image of the first casino outside of Las Vegas with a terrific promotion to celebrate January 11, 2011 featuring an array of exciting offers.