State casino regulators say they can't force the owners of two casinos to stay open another four months while new buyers are sought.

Last month, several South Jersey lawmakers asked the Casino Control Commission to force Showboat and Trump Plaza to stay open past their expected closure dates so new buyers could be found. Commission Chairman Matthew Levinson told state Sen. James Whelan and Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and Chris Brown that deciding when to close a casino is a private business decision and beyond the commission's authority.

In their letter to the commission, the politicians also said companies that close a casino should not be allowed to bar a new owner from running the site as a casino. But the commission says it can't require that, either. Levinson says deed restrictions are private, contractual covenants, and enforcement of them is a matter for the courts.

Showboat is due to shut down at the end of August while Trump Plaza is set to close in mid-September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.