TRENTON Gov. Christie on Tuesday signed an executive order to extend the life of the New Jersey Gaming, Sports, and Entertainment Advisory Commission to Dec. 31, 2015, rather than letting it expire on the issuance of its final report. The panel advises the governor on key casino and sports development projects in the state.

Key Christie ally and fund-raiser Jon Hanson was appointed by Christie in 2010 to lead the seven-member commission. It has been charged with leading critical studies for the governor, including Atlantic City's transformation into having less reliance on gambling.

Hanson and Christie stood together in summer 2010 on the Boardwalk to announce a five-year revitalization plan for Atlantic City that included a state-run tourism district. That plan expires in February, less than two months from the commission's new expiration date.

The commission is conducting a study over a multiday summit Christie convened in Atlantic City. The summit, begun in early November, is intended to gather ideas on the city's future amid four casino closings this year. The third day of the summit is scheduled for next month.

Hanson's panel is also likely to play a key role as the state decides whether to end Atlantic City's 36-year state monopoly on gambling by allowing casinos in North Jersey. Proponents want that issue to go before state voters as a referendum on the November ballot. - Suzette Parmley