SEATTLE, Washington - In the footnote of one of my posts on the Tropicana gaming license denial in Atlantic City, I noted the rather suspicious fact that Resorts International, the company that opened the first Atlantic City casino in 1978, was the Mary Carter Paint Company only a decade earlier. Paint companies typically don't open casinos. The orthodox explanation is that the company (which was based in Florida in the 1960s) expanded into real estate, which led to acquiring property in the Bahamas, which became casinos, thus they were pros at this thing by the time gambling was legalized in New Jersey.
Various authors that I have read have put a more insidious spin on this. Charles Higham, in Howard Hughes: The Secret Life, says the following:
He [Hughes] made a deal with the CIA, which owned Mary Carter Paints, an improbably named "front" company, to let him buy the operating rights to Mary Carter Paints's Paradise Island Casino, Hotel and Ocean Club. The founders, in 1958, of Mary Carter Paints were Thomas Dewey and Allen Dulles, at a time when Dulles was head of the CIA and shortly before Dulles obtained Maheu's assistance in attempting to kill Fidel Castro, with Hughes's tacit approval... In 1963, the CIA linked up with mob connections through Mary Carter to support fascist governments in South America. By 1964, Robert Kennedy... was aggressively exploring the Hughes-Moe Dalitz-Sam Giancana-CIA-Mary Carter Paints-Nassau connections.
In his source notes Higham says that this came from "files of the Watergate hearings."
Higham may not exactly be a bedrock source of information, as The Secret Life details alleged homosexual activity of Hughes, including longstanding affairs with Tyrone Power and Cary Grant, and essentially alleges that Hughes died of AIDS, even though Hughes died in 1976, he essentially ceased sexual activity in the 1950s, and documented AIDS infections were extremely rare in the US before 1980.
The Money and the Power by Sally Denton and Roger Morris says:
Formerly the Mary Carter Paint Company, which was widely considered to be a CIA front that laundered payments to the Cuban exile army in the early sixties, Resorts International now owned several Bahamian casinos and was thought to be dominated by [Meyer] Lansky.
The source notes for that list Masters of Paradise by Alan Block as the source.
An old conspiracy mailing list post states that the CIA-Dulles-Mary Carter connection was documented in the May 20, 1976 issue of Rolling Stone.
The next time I'm at the library, I'll check out that copy of Rolling Stone (which also has an interview with Marlon Brando!) and look into things further. All of the sources above probably funnel to the research in the Rolling Stone article.
UPDATE I have followed up on this.