Resorts Turns Profit Since Gomes Death
From the moment Dennis Gomes and his partner bought Resorts Casino Hotel, he had a plan to get the struggling casino out of the red and into the black.
It involved rebranding Resorts in a roaring `20s theme to capitalize on the red-hot HBO series "Boardwalk Empire" about anything-goes Prohibition-era Atlantic City, putting the cocktail servers in skimpy flapper costumes and fishnet stockings, giving away way too much free slot play and adopting ridiculous meal prices, like $2.99 for a full steak dinner.
The idea was to drive as many people through the doors as possible, then gradually cut back on the enticements to more supportable levels once customer traffic increased.
Gomes was sure this was the key to saving Resorts, and making it profitable again.
It was. But he never got to see the plan succeed.
Gomes died in February at age 68 of complications from kidney dialysis, just weeks before his casino turned a profit.
"It's so sad he didn't get to experience that because there was nothing he wanted to see more," said Gomes' son, Aaron, the casino's vice president of operations. "He made a lot of other people rich working for them at their casinos, and he never got the chance to own one of his own until recently. It was almost like he was up there looking down on us saying, `I didn't get to do it, but you guys did.'
"The initial sadness turned into inspiration," he said. "Everyone wanted to make this place a huge success in his honor."
Resorts did not reveal the amount of its April profit, saying monthly profit and loss figures are not made public. The state Division of Gaming Enforcement releases quarterly profit and loss statements for each casino, but they do not include month-by-month totals.
But Aaron Gomes characterized Resorts' April performance as "a decent profit." It was the first time the casino had been profitable since the end of 2008, under former ownership. The elder Gomes and Morris Bailey bought Resorts in 2010 .
Aaron Gomes and the rest of the management team his father put in place have carried out the elder Gomes' business plan since his death. That included cutting back on promotional spending, and matching incentives such as free rooms or slot play more closely to a customer's level of play at the casino.
But it also included making people feel welcome, something Dennis Gomes did better than most. Shortly after his father's death, Aaron Gomes sent a letter to all the customers registered in Resorts database, pledging to carry on in his father's traditions.
"He is the only man I know that can take a business that caters to hundreds of thousands of people a year and make it feel like the mom and pop corner store, and that will not be lost with him," the younger Gomes wrote. "His vision for Resorts will continue and I look forward to doing just that with each of you."
Theresa Wigand, a high-roller from Jeffersonville, Pa., says Aaron Gomes is already doing an excellent job of that.
"He loves people like his dad did," she said. "He got a lot of experience from his dad, and I think he's doing a fabulous job. As soon as I go home, I can't wait to get back here, and that's the truth."
For the first four months of this year, Resorts gambling revenue is down 16 percent, to $43.8 million. That ranks it 8th out of Atlantic City's 12 casinos.
But cost-reduction measures, coupled with a settlement of the casino's tax appeal with the city, have brought it to a tipping point where it could be profitable going forward, Aaron Gomes said.
He said he will not know for several weeks whether May will also show a profit, once all expenses are tallied, but said, "it'll be close either way."
Although some longtime workers were laid off when Gomes and Bailey took over in Dec. 2010, and many of those who remained had to take pay cuts, the casino has not reduced its workforce of about 2,000 since then, Aaron Gomes said.
By the end of the year, Resorts should be firmly in the black, he predicted.
"That would be an awesome turnaround," he said. "That would really make my dad smile."
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)