2d chance for ex-casino chief Gary DiBartolomeo, former Caesars president and compulsive gambler, got his license back, and numerous restrictions.

Posted: March 17, 2005

ATLANTIC CITY — Gary DiBartolomeo, the former president of Caesars Atlantic City who was stripped of his casino license four years ago because he lied about his gambling addiction, got his license reinstated and a second chance yesterday.

"Thank you very much," said a barely audible DiBartolomeo, after the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, which regulates gambling in Atlantic City, voted, 5-0, in favor of reissuing him a license.

With that, DiBartolomeo got up and quickly left the room. "I have no comment," he told a group of reporters.

Instead, his attorney, Lloyd D. Levenson, did the talking for the once-rising star in the casino industry whose compulsive gambling led to an equally precipitous downfall.

"He's ready to move on with his life," Levenson said. "He's a changed man. There's no doubt about that."

Levenson said DiBartolomeo would be issued a casino employee license; he can take a nonexecutive-level job, such as casino host. After one year, Levenson said, his client could reapply for a key employee license that would let him hold an executive-level job, including president.

DiBartolomeo, who grew up in South Philadelphia and turns 50 this year, rose from craps dealer to president of one of the city's largest casinos during his 26 years in the business. As the head of Caesars in Atlantic City, he was making $325,000 a year.

Known as "Gary DiBart" to his friends and associates, the Temple University dropout had charm, savvy, and a problem that he managed to hide even from his family. He had a penchant for high-stakes gambling, once blowing $100,000 during a 7 1/2-hour binge at the craps table. As his problem grew worse, he took out several personal loans to pay off his mounting debts.

He lied excessively to his employer, Caesars casino, to cover his tracks. He also lied to the commission and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement over repeatedly violating conditions of his license, including provisions that specifically restricted him from all gambling.

Levenson said since being stripped of his license and livelihood on Feb. 28, 2001, DiBartolomeo spent the last four years trying to rebuild his life.

The commission noted DiBartolomeo's efforts to help other compulsive gamblers. He started a chapter of Gamblers Anonymous in Margate, where he still lives with his wife and children. He resurrected a similar GA program in Atlantic City.

To make ends meet, Levenson said, the former casino executive ran a junket company from his home, in which he arranged trips to the Caribbean for high rollers. DiBartolomeo will give up the junket company once he reenters the casino industry, Levenson said.

In July, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission approved DiBartolomeo's petition to reapply for a license a year before the mandatory five-year waiting period expired.

"You've showed us you deserve a second chance," commission chairwoman Linda Kassekert said yesterday, staring at DiBartolomeo. "People in the casino industry, in the treatment community, and in the regulatory agencies once again are putting a lot of faith in you. . . . Do not disappoint us."

Kassekert read aloud the conditions on the renewed license: DiBartolomeo is prohibited from gambling in any casino at any time. His paychecks will be directly deposited into an account, from which only his wife will be allowed to draw money. He must continue to attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings, and resume weekly treatment with a psychiatrist or psychologist. He must submit a report from an accountant annually on his family's finances, and is prohibited from accepting any gift or loan from any customer or casino employee.

"These conditions should not be seen as punitive," Kassekert said. "We think these conditions will help him on his road to recovery."

Watching yesterday were members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, the new body that will play a similar role in Pennsylvania. The seven-member board is establishing criteria to issue 14 gambling licenses. The board met privately afterward with the Casino Control Commission.

"New Jersey is considered a leader, along with Nevada, in having the toughest standards in the industry," said board chairman Thomas A. "Tad" Decker. "We're here to learn and get ideas."

Contact staff writer Suzette Parmley at 856-779-3818 or sparmley@phillynews.com.

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