The Atlantic City Problem Gets Messier: Christie Vs. NJ Assembly, Local Officials

The rhetoric of politicians in New Jersey seemingly has reached an all-time high as Atlantic City is attempting to avoid a governmental shutdown.

One of the latest developments is Gov. Chris Christie saying he will oppose the possibility of putting new casinos in North Jersey, unless his plan for the state to take over Atlantic City is approved.

The latest on the AC financial mess

As Atlantic City nears bankruptcy and is having trouble paying its bills, a Superior Court judge on Friday gave the city a slight reprieve.

Christie is fighting in court to freeze the city’s assets, but Judge Julio Mendez did not grant Christie’s wish, giving the state and the city until April 19th to work out a deal.

Here’s more on what went down on Friday, according to the Associated Press:

Hours after the city made a payroll payment that the state initially sought to block, the state Education Department asked a judge to prevent the city from spending any more money until it makes an $8.4 million payment to the schools, which are due $34 million by July 15.

As of Friday, it had about $8 million in cash on hand, City Finance Director Michael Stinson said.

The brinksmanship is taking place with the backdrop of Christie and the legislature being involved in rancorous negotiations — if they can even be called that — about bailing out AC.

This week Christie also called Mayor Don Guardian a “liar.”

The legislative answer for AC?

The state legislature pits Christie and the Senate against the Assembly and Speaker Vincent Prieto.

Christie has said he would sign an aid package, if comes with an immediate state takeover of Atlantic City that has been approved by the Senate.

On the other side is the plan that Prieto is advancing through the Assembly. His bill falls far short of a state takeover, establishing a committee of officials that would establish “benchmarks the city must meet to get aid,” according to the AP.

Prieto has said he does not support the Christie plan because it usurps the rights of the city’s unions. Christie has openly opposed Prieto’s effort, while also upping the ante on advancing his plan.

North Jersey casinos, in the mix?

Last week, Christie also indicated that he would actually campaign against a referendum to allow casinos in North Jersey, if he didn’t get his way on Atlantic City.


But the governor stressed Thursday that if Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian and Prieto don’t support the takeover, “they are running the very real risk of losing my support.”

“And I will campaign across the state against the referendum if this is what happens,” Christie said. “And I’ll make sure it’s defeated.”

Polls show that New Jerseyans are split on north Jersey casinos, though positive sentiment has been growing.

Christie’s argument is that the state should not be trying to expand outside of Atlantic City while the one place gambling has been legal in the state has failed as a jurisdiction. The city is also the hub for the New Jersey online gambling industry.

Photo credit: L.E.MORMILE /

About the Author

Warren Jones

Aside from his role as editor at, Warren Jones writes extensively about the legal online gaming and US online poker industries, having played poker recreationally for his entire adult life. He has also covered sports for The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner, among others.