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. Its 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 he says 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.”