TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie says that he predicts that a ballot question to expand gambling to northern New Jersey will be defeated if lawmakers don't approve a state takeover plan of Atlantic City.

Christie said Thursday that the state takeover of Atlantic City and a bill to allow alternative tax payments for casinos are the only solutions to save it from financial collapse.

The governor says he has a bipartisan agreement with Senate President Steve Sweeney on bills to take over the city's finances and allow its casinos to make payments in lieu of taxes.

But Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto won't put the measure up for votes in the Assembly unless Christie drops a provision letting the state cancel public employee union contracts.

A referendum to allow two casinos to be opened in the northern part of the state will be on November's ballot.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.