One of the three board members on the New Jersey Casino Control Commission is now serving as a holdover as she awaits a decision by Gov. Chris Christie on her reappointment.
Sharon Anne Harrington, whose term expired Sunday, stressed "it's the governor's call" whether she will stay with the state agency that oversees casino licenses.
"If I am invited, I will make a decision at that time," Harrington said in an interview after the commission's board meeting Thursday.
Harrington, 59, of Bradley Beach, Monmouth County, was first appointed to the commission in June 2009 by then-Gov. Jon S. Corzine. She moved to the casino commission from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, where she had served as administrator since 2004.
Casino commissioners normally serve five-year terms, earning an annual salary of $125,000, although the chairman is paid $141,000. Harrington's first term was for four years because she filled the remainder of a previously vacant board seat.
Before becoming motor vehicle administrator, Harrington was a Democratic strategist who worked in key positions for the late U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg and ex-Gov. James J. Florio.
She said she became a nonaffiliated voter this year to avoid any involvement in partisan politics while serving on the casino commission.
"We can't be politically active. It seemed to make sense," she said of her switch to nonaffiliated status.
Christie, a Republican, controls the casino commission through his appointment power. Last year, he named Linwood Republican Matthew Levinson as commission chairman. Levinson is the son of Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, also a Republican.
Harrington's status as a holdover is open-ended, giving Christie as much time as he needs to make a decision on her appointment.
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said Thursday it is not unusual for someone to serve as a holdover.
He said the governor will make a decision about Harrington at a later date.
Previously, Casino Control Commission members could serve as holdovers for no more than 120 days. When the commission was downsized by Christie last year from five to three members, a change was made to allow holdovers to stay indefinitely.
The governor cut the commission's size after his 2011 overhaul of New Jersey's casino regulations. The commission, once the chief regulatory body for the $3 billion casino industry, had much of its powers stripped away and given to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Now, the commission focuses on issuing licenses for the casinos and their employees instead of overseeing the day-to-day operations of the gambling industry.
Harrington has been a commissioner during dramatic changes in the casino industry, including the governor's revamping of the regulatory structure. The next big development is the arrival of Internet gambling in New Jersey in November.
Despite the casino industry's nearly seven-year revenue slump, Harrington expressed confidence in Atlantic City's future. She noted that Internet gambling should provide a big boost for casinos.
"It has been an interesting and exciting four years. There have been a lot of changes in Atlantic City," Harrington said, recalling her first term on the commission. "But we're optimistic for the future. As we look to Internet gaming, we're anticipating another positive change in the city."
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