Bill aims to help casinos during shutdown

Trenton, New Jersey (AP) – The Assembly on Monday approved a bill designed to keep Atlantic City casinos open in the event of another state government shutdown like the one that halted gambling last year.

Casinos closed last July when the Legislature and Gov. Jon S. Corzine failed to agree on a budget by the July 1 constitutional deadline, leaving the state without means to spend money.

The casinos closed because state inspectors must monitor gambling, but the bill approved 80-0 would allow casinos to use money from a special casino fund to continue operating during state government closures.

„Casino workers deserve the assurance that their jobs are safe even during a government shutdown,“ said Assemblyman Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic.

But the Senate has no plans to consider the bill, and a legislative attorney and state Attorney General Stuart Rabner last year declared it unconstitutional.

Sen. James J. McCullough, R-Atlantic, has proposed amending the state Constitution to allow casinos to remain open and reiterated his support for that approach after Monday’s Assembly vote.