TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie said the Legislature could "give Atlantic City a Christmas present" by reaching agreement on changes designed to revive the nation's second-largest gambling market.
Christie said yesterday that a deal could be worked out on Monday if the Assembly agrees to push back its Christmas vacation, but its top Democrat said lawmakers are in no hurry.
While the Republican governor would not commit in advance to signing bills that would create a state-run tourism district in Atlantic City, allow Internet and sports betting, reduce casino regulation and allow smaller casinos to be built, he signaled that a deal is close at hand with the Legislature controlled by Democrats.
"We could resolve all these issues by Monday and give Atlantic City a Christmas present of certainty as to how they're going to move forward," Christie said. "Put in just one more day of work."
But that's not going to happen. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, D-Essex, said the Assembly would not return for Monday votes.
She noted that bills that advanced yesterday would create a state-run tourism district in Atlantic City, allow Internet betting on casino games and subsidize struggling horse breeders.
"The Assembly moved three gaming and horse-racing bills through the Budget Committee today and plans to continue working on this issue into early January to be sure we get it right," she said.