By George Anastasia
Paul D'Amato sat in the living room of his Ventnor home dressed in pajamas, slippers and a bathrobe.
It was about 3 o'clock on a spring afternoon in 1978. D'Amato said he had gotten up a few hours earlier. His body, after years of running one of the most popular joints in the city, was still on nightclub time.
The 500 Club, an Atlantic City landmark on Missouri Avenue, had burned down five years earlier, but "Skinny" D'Amato was used to getting up late.
It didn't take much to get him going. Within minutes, D'Amato was waxing nostalgically about what was and optimistically about what would be.
Resorts International was poised to open the first casino-hotel on the Boardwalk, the start of the grand experiment to rebuild the struggling resort. Caesars World and Bally's were waiting in the wings.
"It's gonna be a gold rush," D'Amato predicted, then corrected himself. "No, not gold. Platinum. That's better than gold."
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