There's plenty of muck to rake in the tangled history of how the lackluster Mary Carter Paint Company blossomed into Resorts International, one of the hottest casino stocks around, and Barron's reporter Mahon doesn't miss much. Resorts first got into the gambling business in the Bahamas, acquiring Paradise Island in a complex series of transactions that took Huntington Hartford to the cleaners (once again) and entailed the judicious payment of ""legal fees"" to Bahamian government officials. Then things got stranger: they hired an alleged mobster's brother as casino manager; they founded a ""security"" subsidiary, stocked with former police and FBI people; Howard Hughes showed up; they tried to buy Pan Am; Vesco showed up; and, says Mahon, a fellow with a briefcase full of who-knows-what made trips to Key Biscayne to see ""the man."" When New Jersey legalized casino gambling in decrepit Atlantic City, Resorts got in on the ground floor with a ""temporary"" license (and a temporary monopoly), the crowds poured in, and casino mania swept the stock market. Mahon's narrative ends with Resorts' mid-1979 victory: over the entrenched opposition of the state Attorney General's office (which opposed the license on 17 grounds), and despite opinion polls showing that most citizens felt Resorts was linked to organized crime, Resorts brazened it out and received a ""permanent"" license from the Casino Control Commission--which itself was later tainted in the Abscam investigation. Mahon's work is open to sniping; like many investigative journalists, she sometimes relies on guilt-by-association, strange coincidence (OK, so the excollege roommate of Resorts' president wound up, after a felony conviction, as an officer in Bebe Rebozo's bank. . . so what?), and open questions. But the facts are bad enough. A seamy business, and must reading for high rollers.