500club D'Amato Atlantic City
It'll Be Paradise Regained, D'Amato Says of Casinos ' ATLANTIC CITY. N.J. AP - To Paul E. "Skinny" D'Amato, casino gambling would make this resort paradise paradise regained. "We were the original Vegas," asserted the former nightclub owner, recalling the 1920s and 30s when this town was brimming with gambling dens, both plush and seedy. "But every city in the United States had gambling then," added D'Amato, whose 500 Club burned down in June 1973. "What is paradise in the United States today? You'd have to say Vegas," claimed D'Amato. "It's the best of everything the best food, the best rooms, the best help, the best of anything you can mention." mention." If New Jersey voters approve approve the Nov. 5 referendum on legalizing casinos, then D'Amato hopes to come out of retirement as a casino manager, manager, not an owner. A widower who spends most of his time at his Ventnor home, D'Amato has been like a cowboy without a horse since theclubfire. He said he is broke and the club's Missouri Avenue site is heavily mortgaged, but he hopes to find investors to build a luxury hotel there with a new 500 club inside. D'Amato has managed a casino before. He ran the Cal Neva Lodge for his longtime pal. Prank Sinatra, in Lake Tahoe in the early 1960s. Once the Nevada Gaming Control Commission accused him of trying to bribe its agents. 14 SKINNY" D'AMATO The charge was dropped in October 1963 after Sinatra lost his license because a reputed mobster. Sam Giancana, had visited the lodge. The 500 Club was famous for the big-name big-name big-name acts it booked in the summers of the 1950s and early 1960s. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis started as a team there. But like the rest of this resort, the club's glitter had faded in recent years and times grew hard for D'Amato. He said he has squared away a $121,000 lien the Internal Revenue Revenue Service held on the club. D'Amato sees boom times ahead if the referendum passes. "I think everything in 10 years' time will be all torn down and there'll be new hotels," he predicted. Jobs will eradicate poverty in the resort's inlet ghetto, he claimed, adding, "there's no poverty in Vegas." He rattled off statistics about a new Las Vegas hotel that has 4,000 employes and a weekly payroll of $1.5 million. "The whole seashore doesn't have 4,000 help." he said. D'Amato doesn't reveal his age, but if he hasn't turned 60. he's not far from it He remains a thin man, his face even more drawn out than usual from a bout with diabetes. In his club he was rarely seen without a cup of coffee. He continues that habit, drinking up to 50 cups a day and smoking six or seven packs of low-nicotine low-nicotine low-nicotine low-nicotine cigarettes that he punctures punctures to keep some of the smoke out of his lungs. His circle of close friends includes Atlantic City Commissioner Commissioner Mario F. Floriani and other prominent men. But some of the stars have disappeared from his large stable of friends. Sinatra, who reportedly used to appear free at the 500 Club, has not visited D'Amato in several years. Allegations were frequently made that underworld figures came to his club, where the backroom poker game was legendary. But D'Amato's only troubles with the law were in the distant past. He served a jail term in the 1930s for "white slavery" (transporting women across state lines for prostitution) and three years later received a suspended sentence for a gambling gambling offense.