AFTER INITIAL review of the six applications for the city's second casino license, the state gaming board has identified more than 50 main players associated with the projects, and that number is expected to grow as the proposals move forward.

Now begins the extensive process of conducting background checks on all of those people, who have been deemed to have either direct or indirect influence on the companies that would pay for and run the casinos, to make sure they are suitable.

"We're really looking just to make sure that things are in actuality as things are presented by the applicant," said R. Douglas Sherman, the board's chief counsel.

So far, the board has identified 54 people associated with the applicants whom it has deemed "principals."

In identifying principals, Sherman said, the board's Bureau of Licensing starts by identifying officers, lenders, people with ownership stakes, trusts that may be set up and other lending structures and agreements.

Then, the materials go to the board's Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement, which looks closely at financing and corporate structures, conducts background checks and looks for others who could exert influence on the applicant. The bureau looks for holes or gaps in financing and examines account ledgers and expenditures to see who is being paid.

"We're looking at whether there are any players behind the scenes that are not the face of the project," Sherman said.

The BIE looks at factors that could bear on character, honesty and integrity, Sherman said, interviewing friends, neighbors, prior employers and others.

All of the information collected goes into consideration when the board determines if an applicant meets the suitability requirements. There is then a new round of checks that begin once an applicant wins a license.

The process has found results in the past: In 2009, then-casino owner Louis DeNaples, of Mount Airy Casino Resort in Monroe County, was charged with perjury for allegedly lying to casino regulators about his relationship with reputed mob boss William D'Elia.

"In this industry, as advanced as we are, there's no hiding the ball here," Robert Russell, a consultant with Regulatory Management Counselors, said. "The days of unknown ownership of the 1930s of Vegas just are gone."