TRENTON - Atlantic City's casinos would have to make up their minds more quickly on whether they want to bid for a new casino in northern New Jersey under a change made Thursday by the state Legislature.

A state Senate committee amended a bill authorizing a statewide referendum on expanding casinos to northern New Jersey.

The change would give Atlantic City casinos only 60 days to bid on one of the two new northern New Jersey casino licenses. They would have had six months under previous versions of the bill.

If they fail to apply after 60 days, the licenses would be thrown open to any interested bidder.

The bill initially reserves both licenses for owners of existing Atlantic City casinos, but there is strong sentiment among some lawmakers to let anyone bid.