The New Jersey Casino Control Commission has denied a license renewal to the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City.

The move marked only the second time in the 29-year history of legalized gambling in New Jersey that the commission has denied a license.

The casino will remain open under the supervision of a retired State Supreme Court justice, Gary S. Stein.

However, Columbia Sussex Corp., which owns the Tropicana, will have to seek a buyer, said commission spokesman Dan Heneghan.

The commission also fined Columbia Sussex $750,000 for not having an independent auditing committee for nearly six months — a crucial requirement under state law.

Since taking over the Tropicana on Jan. 3, Columbia Sussex has eliminated nearly 900 jobs — about a quarter of its work force. That led to criticism from its largest employee union, as well as many customers, that the cuts left the Tropicana dirty and understaffed.

Paul O'Gara, a lawyer for Columbia Sussex, said the company was disappointed at the ruling and would appeal it to a state appellate court.

Robert McDevitt, president of UNITE-HERE Local 54, which has been locked in a bitter battle with the Tropicana over staffing levels, said union members were pleased with the ruling.

"They're happy that this company has now been shown in the light of truth," he said. "They've been suffering under this company since January, and now the whole world knows it."

The last time the commission denied a license was in 1989, when the owners of the former Atlantis Casino Hotel were deemed to be too financially shaky.

The Boardwalk casino had requested that the commission renew its license despite the union's vigorous opposition.  The acting director of the state's gaming enforcement agency last week recommended a one-year license for the beleaguered casino instead of the typical five-year license.

In a stinging assessment, Yvonne Maher, lead attorney for the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, said William J. Yung III, the chief executive officer of Tropicana owner Columbia-Sussex Corp., was "not willing or able to run an Atlantic City casino."

Maher's recommendation - similar to one made by a prosecutor to a judge - came with a laundry list of 26 conditions for the one-year license renewal.

This article contains information from Ijquirer staff writer Suzette Parmley.