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NJ legislators Implore AC casinos to Look Harder for Buyers

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NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Three New Jersey legislators want the state's gaming regulator to pressure two Atlantic City casinos headed toward closure, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and Showboat Atlantic City, to stay open longer and look harder for buyers.

New Jersey Senator Jim Whelan, Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, and Assemblyman Chris Brown sent the New Jersey Casino Control Commission a July 22 letter expressing concern about the potential loss of thousands of jobs in the seacoast city and requested that the regulator "direct" Showboat and Trump Plaza to remain open for four months and continue to seek buyers that could evaluate a variety of uses for those properties.

NJCCC Chairman Matthew Levinson didn't dismiss the legislators' request, noting in an email to The Deal that the commission is reviewing the letter.

"I certainly share the very serious concerns they raised about the welfare of workers and all of the businesses that will suffer if casino properties close their doors," Levinson wrote. "While our authority is broad in some respects and our ability to direct business decisions of the casinos is limited under the Casino Control Act, the current circumstances are unprecedented and present novel issues which we have been and will continue to review."

Showboat, which is owned by Caesars Entertainment , has received "a number of inquiries from interested parties," Caesars spokesman Gary Thompson said by phone Wednesday.

He explained that an internal group is reviewing the offers and determining their feasibility.

The N.J. legislators argued in their letter that two months wouldn't be enough time for potential buyers to conduct due diligence on the properties, evaluate potential uses for them and to estimate renovation costs and financing possibilities.