With music and the sun blaring on the Atlantic City boardwalk outside of Resorts Casino, Gov. Chris Christie discussed the importance of tourism for the state Thursday afternoon.
In a press conference, he announced a potential law that would bring sports gambling to the Jersey shore and spoke about the safety and the reputation of the shore.
Christie announced that he is submitting sports gambling regulations that he predicts may come into effect in the fall of this year, but he also said he expects there to be a fight over the law and that he would not be surprised to see the issue hit the courts.
"We intend to go forward and allow sports gambling," he said. "If someone wants to stop us, they'll have to try to stop us."
Christie also discussed a recent $20 million dollar marketing campaign, DO AC, which works to promote Atlantic City. He said that marketing the city is important, because of what he called misconceptions about the city being unsafe or unclean.
"We need to invest more in marketing this great city ... Atlantic City is coming back, and it's coming back in a big way," he said.
Christie's focus, however, was not only on Atlantic City, but on the entire Jersey shore and the tourism industry in the state.
"We know tourism is critical," he said. "Not just to Atlantic City, but to our state's economy."
Atlantic City Alliance President Liza Cartmell said that because Atlantic City is the most nationally and internationally well known of the Jersey shore towns, promoting Atlantic City is an attempt to promote the entire Jersey shore.
"He's really been supportive of New Jersey tourism and all of the beaches," she said. "This gives all of the New Jersey beaches the most visibility; this is the oldest boardwalk, the longest boardwalk."
Christie also discussed criticisms of the city, referring specifically to a headline in the Philadelphia Daily News on Tuesday which referred to Atlantic City as a "Tourist Death Trap" after two Canadians were stabbed during a visit.
"I don't care what Philadelphia thinks of New Jersey," said Christie.
He also said that, although the city has been getting safer, he and the state cannot be responsible for all of the city's problems, and that he "cannot fix irresponsibility at the city government level."
Christie said he will be "putting my money where my mouth is." He and his family will be visiting the newly opened Revel, the newest of Atlantic City's casinos, this Memorial Day weekend. He hopes to walk the boardwalk and spend some time on the beach during his trip.
After the press conference, Christie, Congressman Frank LoBiondo and Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson grabbed a beer at The Irish Pub, just off the boardwalk, a few blocks from Resorts.