Former exec regains casino license - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Gary DiBartolomeo, the former Caesars Atlantic City president whose gambling addiction cost him his job and his casino license, will once again be allowed to work in the only industry he has ever known.

The five-member Casino Control Commission voted unanimously yesterday to grant DiBartolomeo a license that would enable him to work for an Atlantic City casino, although not in a management position.

But the commission also imposed several conditions on the license -- such as weekly meetings with a psychiatrist, regular attendance at Gamblers' Anonymous meetings and a ban on gambling anywhere in the world.

DiBartolomeo also had to admit to and apologize for misleading regulators in previous licensing proceedings. And his paychecks will have to be direct deposited into an account from which only his wife can withdraw.

The measures "should not be seen as punitive," commission Chairwoman Linda Kassekert said, but are there to help DiBartolomeo deal with his addiction.

After the vote, DiBartolomeo quickly left the meeting. He declined to talk to reporters.

His lawyer, Lloyd Levenson, said DiBartolomeo has been approached by several casinos, but did not say if he had a job lined up.

DiBartolomeo rose from craps dealer to casino president, only to lose everything to his addiction. He once referred to himself as "the David Copperfield of deception."

Once a top marketing executive whose ability to woo high rollers helped him become president of Caesars in 2000, DiBartolomeo has had some of the top brass of the casino industry vouch for him. In the past, Wally Barr, chief executive of Caesars Entertainment, Mark Brown, head of Atlantic City operations for Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, and Dennis Gomes, president of resort operations for Tropicana's parent, Aztar, have all written letters to the commission on his behalf.

Since his license was revoked in 2001, DiBartolomeo has mostly been self-employed, operating junkets that shuttle gamblers to casinos in the Caribbean, Levenson said.

When the commission banned DiBartolomeo from working for the casinos for five years, it said his failure to come clean about the lies he told to cover up his addiction made him unsuitable for a license.

The commission's initial decision was controversial, with compulsive gambling counselors saying it was punishing DiBartolomeo for his addiction.

"Nothing can be further from the truth," said Kassekert, who was not on the commission at the time.

Since his license was revoked, DiBartolomeo had asked the commission to let him reapply for his license early. But it wasn't until yesterday that it agreed he had shown he was a changed man.

"Although I was the one who was in favor of suspending your license initially, I do believe that everyone deserves a second chance," commissioner Mike Fedorko said. "I want to commend you on beating your addiction. I think it shows great character."

Harvey Fogel, president of the board of directors for the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, and DiBartolomeo's sponsor, said the commission's ruling was "terrific."

He said addiction among casino employees is high, but recovered addicts can work in Atlantic City without relapsing.

"There's alcoholics who can be bartenders, doctors and pharmacists can be drug addicts, and compulsive gamblers can be in the gaming industry," Fogel said. "I think Gary can do it."

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