|By Hoa Nguyen, The Press of Atlantic
City, Pleasantville, N.J.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sept. 06, 2012--Aaron Gomes, the son of a legendary Atlantic City casino executive, is resigning as executive vice president of Resorts Casino Hotel to pursue a new opportunity in Australia.
The 30-year-old Margate resident has been hired as managing director of Echo Entertainment's Jupiters Gold Coast Casino outside Brisbane. His last day will be Friday, Gomes said in an email announcing his departure to Resorts employees Wednesday. He plans to move overseas later this month or early next month.
"I am not leaving solely for the job, but rather for the adventure that I have so desperately craved after going through what I have this past year," Gomes, whose brother, Douglas, and father, Dennis, died within weeks of each other earlier this year, said in the email.
Gomes' new boss will be Larry Mullin, the former president of Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa who left his post four years ago for Australia, where he is chief executive officer of Echo Entertainment.
"I've always desired to work in an international market, and this kind of came to fruition," Gomes said.
The past few months have been emotionally draining for Gomes, whose brother died Jan. 28 and father passed away Feb. 24.
"Nobody will know what it's like to go in and clean out my father's office and get the mail with his name on it," Gomes said.
While grieving, Gomes also continued to help Resorts with its strategic planning, a process to revive the faltering casino that began when his father was still alive.
The younger Gomes helped work out a partnership with Jimmy Buffett to bring the singer's famed Margaritaville chain to Resorts and then later negotiated with Connecticut-based Mohegan Sun for a marketing alliance that came to encompass an equity stake in Resorts.
Gomes said he was in favor of having Mohegan Sun also manage the property as a way to leverage economies of scale, save money and put Resorts on a better financial projectile.
"It's been in the best place to succeed since my dad's passing," Gomes said.
Had he not lost his father, Gomes said he unquestionably would still be working for Resorts in Atlantic City. Without him, the prospects of staying were less appealing than the draw of an overseas assignment, said Gomes, who spent six months in Australia as part of a college exchange program.
"If my dad was still here, I planned on working with him forever, building the company, expanding and finishing what we have here in Resorts," Gomes said. "It's not about the job. It's not about the money. It's more about the adventure and getting away from this past year."
Australia is a burgeoning market with little competition. Echo, one of only two casino companies in the country, has said it intends to invest more than $600 million in renovations at Jupiters Gold Coast Casino in a suburb outside Brisbane, Gomes said.
"That was a selling point," he said.
Growing up in the shadow of his father and learning about the casino industry from one of the field's legendary figures has prepared Gomes for the new opportunity, said Israel Posner, a friend of the Gomes family who also is executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Richard Stockton College.
"Aaron is a very talented leader in the industry who has been raised as a young child with the DNA of a marketing guru," Posner said. "It's not just the opportunity to operate, but to build and lead a new venture."
At the same time, because Gomes is young, no one can rule out him returning to Atlantic City once he has gained international experience.
"This is a global industry, and smart young people search the world for opportunity and the world searches for them," Posner said. "No one knows what the future holds."
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