Christie Considering Emergency Manager for Atlantic City

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said the state is considering an emergency manager for Atlantic City, where four of 12 casinos have closed this year after being battered by out-of-state competition.

Other recommendations from government officials and casino executives include overhauling city and school government, cutting pension costs and creating a public-private partnership to lure development, Christie said at his second summit focused on the seaside resort. He declined to give specifics. The full list will be made available tomorrow, according to his office.

Christie, a second-term Republican who has said he may run for president in 2016, has struggled to turn around Atlantic City, the onetime U.S. East Coast gambling capital. Casino revenue dropped to $2.9 billion last year, from a peak of $5.2 billion in 2006, as Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New York expanded gambling.

“There’s been a history of weak-kneed decision-making that has led us to this point,” Christie told reporters after today’s 90-minute meeting. “The current model is completely and utterly, remarkably, unsustainable. It is incumbent upon all of us to face up to that reality.”

Casinos account for as much as 70 percent of Atlantic City’s tax base. The municipality had its credit rating cut one level to BBB+ in September by Standard & Poor’s, which cited “the revenue and potential liquidity pressures that the city faces.”

In the latest setback, United Airlines this week said it will end flights to Atlantic City from Chicago and Houston, eight months after service started. The airline’s decision frustrates a Christie-backed initiative to bring a major carrier into the city’s airport to boost convention business.

Christie has called for strategies to build Atlantic City revenue on non-gambling attractions including entertainment and retail. The summits come four years into his five-year plan to revitalize the city.

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