Gomes poised to leap-frog DeNaples

Feb 19, 2008 5:55 AM

There are worse positions to be than second place, particularly when the guy ahead of you comes down with what might be a terminal case of whoops-I-wish-I-hadn’t-said-that.

Dennis Gomes may be considering thoughts like this as he mulls the possible good fortune that could come to him and his partners because of the mess in which Pennsylvania’s Mount Airy Casino owner Louis DeNaples finds himself after being indicted by a grand jury on four perjury counts alleging he lied to state gaming regulators about his associations with assorted mob figures.

DeNaples, a Dunmore businessman who has successfully dabbled in banking and assorted other big money ventures, has had his Pennsylvania license suspended as a result of the indictment. He was awarded the license in December 2006 and opened the Mount Airy facility last October.

There are those who claimed many months ago that they saw DeNaples’ troubles coming, but none of that matters now because DeNaples has been sucked into a system that will eventually run its course, and he will be found innocent or guilty.

But if he is found guilty ”¦ Gomes believes the Airy license should be awarded to the Pocono Manor development principals who have already said in a letter to Pennsylvania gaming officials that they should get the license by virtue of what they view as their second place finish to DeNaples in 2006.

By way of putting things in perspective, Gomes was slated to become the chief of operations at Pocono Manor, a big idea that was bankrolled by Greg Matzel and Morris Bailey of New Jersey and New York, respectively, who were part of a failed effort with Gomes to acquire the Trump casinos last year.

Gomes said, "If the process runs its course and he loses, I believe that we should get the license."

Good luck to Gomes, a well-known executive with wide experience at the upper levels of companies in Las Vegas and Atlantic City for a number of years.

But it should never have come to this. It’s difficult to imagine Nevada’s Gaming Control Board or New Jersey’s Casino Control Commission awarding a license to someone who set off so many alarm bells, so to speak, even before he had a license. At a minimum, either state would have put things on hold until there was solid certainty about the credentials of the person seeking a license.

Arguments have been put forth in Pennsylvania that since the Gaming Board does not qualify as a police agency, state police were reluctant to share information. Sounds like a problem that should have been resolved in the Legislature before lawmakers and the governor sent the creaky contraption that is slot machine gambling wobbling toward an uncertain future.

The state’s wannabe regulators did spend some time in Nevada researching procedures as they are applied in Las Vegas.

But it doesn’t sound like they spent a lot of time thinking about whatever they heard.

But in fairness to DeNaples, the Pennsylvania news media notes that he is not accused of being in business with them, only that he lied about the nature of his relationship with the mob figures in question.