ATLANTIC CITY - New Jersey's casino enforcement agency yesterday recommended that the state grant the Tropicana Casino and Resort a one-year license instead of a standard five-year one, arguing that new ownership has thus far proven itself incapable of running a first-class facility.

The Casino Control Commission will issue the final decision on Dec. 12.

Yvonne Maher, acting director of the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, said Kentucky-based Columbia Sussex Corp. and owner William J. Yung III are off to a dismal start.

"There's an old saying, 'Never bite off more than you can chew,' " she said. "That sums up what happened here. Bill Yung bit off more than he could chew."

Since taking over on Jan. 3, Columbia Sussex has cut nearly 900 jobs, or about a quarter of the casino's work force. The union says the cuts have left the Tropicana dirty and understaffed. Management blames union sabotage. *