Like father, like son.
It’s just an expression, but there is an eerie similarity that links Aaron Gomes forever with his father Dennis.
During the past few years, Aaron was a shadow to his father as Dennis developed the casino at Indiana Downs racetrack and later became part owner of Resorts Atlantic City, where Aaron was vice president of operations. The tragic and unexpected death of Dennis Gomes in early 2012 brought to an end the mentoring process and shoved Aaron out into the real world. Aaron was ready, but business realities at Resorts meant that Mohegan Gaming Advisors became the new management team there. While Gomes was asked to stay, he seemed to understand that Dennis would want him to get out on his own if the right opportunity came along.
And did it ever. Gomes was offered the position to lead operations, as well as a $900 million renovation, of Echo Entertainment’s Jupiters Casino Hotel, long the dominant gaming property on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. When the offer was presented, Gomes says there was no hesitation.
“While I was excited about remaining involved at Resorts through the transition, this was a chance to get involved in something really unique,” he says. “Jupiters is an iconic property, and to be able to bring it back to its former glory was something I could not pass up.”
Gomes brings his father with him, though. He says he absorbed all that his father taught him over the past several years and is anxious to put it into practice.
“I always start with the personal touch,” he says. “My father was a huge advocate of getting the employees involved in the goals of the company, wherever he was working at the time. If they understand where we are going and how they will benefit once we get there, they get on board.”
Dennis Gomes was famous for getting his executives involved in his passion, karate. The daily measurement of “body mass” was a competition among executives.
“I’m not sure that I’ll use that particular motivator,” laughs Gomes, “but I’ll come up with something that will get everyone together.”
Gomes has only been at Jupiters for a short time, but has already gotten a solid grasp of the market.
“It’s much more of a locals market than people might think,” he explains. “Yes, it’s in a resort destination, but Queensland is a densely populated area where players are knowledgeable and demanding. We’ll respond to desires, and I have plenty of ideas for marketing campaigns that I’m sure will work.”
But, like his father, Gomes will get his executives and employees involved.
“They have already brought a lot of knowledge and experience to the table,” he says. “I would not be doing my job if I didn’t take their suggestions seriously, and we’ve already begun to implement some programs that they have suggested.”
Gomes says he feels his father looking over him at all times.
“I think he’d be pleased with my choices and decisions so far.”