Can Dennis Gomes, with his son Aaron Gomes, turn around Resorts and save another troubled Atlantic City casino?
Dennis Gomes isn’t your typical suit.
In fact, he kind of hates suits.
“I only wore this suit for you guys,” he says, tugging at his collar. “When I’m working, you’ll never catch me in a suit.”
Not typical at all for a guy who has run two major Atlantic City casinos — the Trump Taj Mahal and the Tropicana — and who has just announced plans to purchase the troubled Resorts Casino-Hotel.
It’s Atlantic City’s ultimate suit job, casino president, but Gomes ... well, he has his own ideas.
“I think a suit is just an arbitrary barrier between you and the people,” he continues. “It’s the working guys and the suit guys, and I think that’s just malarkey. And the same with a desk. I never liked that you’re behind a desk and somebody is in front of you in a little chair. You know what I had in my office? A big round table.”
Sitting, uncomfortably, in his spacious game room at his bay-side home in Margate (it’s the suit. It’s making him sweat), Gomes continued to say all kinds of un-suit-like things in a recent interview with Atlantic City Weekly.
“But then you’d never find me in the office anyway,” he says. “I like to get around and meet people. I like talking to the maids and the guys who clean the floors. The doormen, those are my friends. They’re the people I relate to best, because I come from a poor background ... though I never really knew that until I was an adult looking back.”
In an industry where the stars are fabulously wealthy, flamboyant guys like Donald Trump and Steve Wynn (two guys he’s worked for) or corporate wizzes, like Carl Icahn, Gomes is delightfully normal.
And as of about a week ago, he is also the newest “savior” of Atlantic City.
In late August, Gomes announced that he plans to purchase Resorts and try and turn around the city’s first and oldest casino, which was taken over by its lenders last year.
Immediately, a city that has had precious little good news the past two years and has seen its share of the gaming market shrink in the face of growing competition had a little sliver of hope.
Gomes, in his career, has managed 14 different casino resorts for companies such as Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc. and Aztar Corp. He turned around the Taj Mahal in the ’90s, a property in bankruptcy when he took over, and made it profitable. And while head of the Tropicana, his vision led to the construction of The Quarter, a mix of retail, dining and entertainment venues that has been a resounding success since its debut in 2004.
Though he left both casinos amid some controversy, including a very public spat with Donald Trump, he is seen by the gaming industry as a marketing genius known for attracting attention, and business to his properties.
But does Gomes have the magic for yet another turnaround? And can saving Resorts mean everything else in the city can be saved?
Gomes admits there’s pressure for him to perform, but it’s nothing he hasn’t faced before.
“There is pressure because of what I’ve done before and the success I’ve had in the market,” he says. “So there are expectations. And because Resorts is doing so badly, there are also negative expectations of whether it’s going to make it. There’s a feeling that nobody can turn it around.
“But to me, there’s such a history to that property,” he says. “And when I walked through it, I was so amazed at what I saw. Because the people that were there, not only did they maintain that property, they upgraded it significantly. I walked through there and I realized that this is a gem. It’s got close to 1,000 rooms. It has a 100,000-square-foot casino. It has a showroom that holds about 1,500 people. And it has space to expand.”
Gomes also admits that he has a soft spot for Resorts, a property he investigated when it first opened in 1978.
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.'
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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.
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ATLANTIC CITY — The transformation of Resorts to a '20s theme, sparked by international interest in the Atlantic City depicted in HBO's hit series Boardwalk Empire, continues to evolve. And the results have been very impressive. First the first gay club within an Atlantic City casino opened — Prohibition — which is doing very well and packing in both straights and gays to the high energy dance club. Then Boogie Nights developer Dave Pena, a former writer for Atlantic City Weekly, and owner of Planet Rose at the Tropicana Quarter, opened Torch — Atlantic City's first whiskey bar, serving high-end whiskey in a gorgeous space with dark wood, comfy seating and a trend-setting bar. One of the special things about Torch is that it also has a piano and will feature live music Friday and Saturday nights — and on Thursdays later this summer. Not the standard casino lounge acts either; we're talking singer-songwriters from all around the country. It's one of a few places in the entire region where professional singer-songwriters will be encouraged to play their own songs; hats off to Resorts! On a gorgeous Friday afternoon on the Boardwalk, Resorts owner Dennis Gomes, his family, including son Aaron,were present, along with the...
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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.
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...
Presumably, the casino will skip the violence and racketeering of Boardwalk Empire — which also dives into the early careers of mobsters like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano — and just go for the ‘20s party atmosphere. But Gomes, in a press release, does say that the casino is responding to the success of the show, which has quickly become a critical darling.
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.
With 'Boardwalk Empire' on the brain, the casino has announced a special promotion to take place on 1-11-2011 that in many instances is bringing back 1920s prices. Check out these amazing deals.
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