Atlantic City is the East Coast mecca for casino gambling, but new statistics show just how much money the city and state are missing out on, thanks to nearby competition.

New Jersey's nine casino gaming locations recorded $6.45 billion in economic impact in 2018, according to data collected by the American Gaming Association. That's good for sixth-highest in the country, right behind New York's $6.54 billion haul. Ranking just behind New Jersey is Pennsylvania with a total economic impact of $6.33 billion.

New Jersey's casino industry supported 39,000 jobs and recorded $1.2 billion in taxes, the AGA analysis finds.

Kevin Ortzman, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said the Atlantic City casino industry — one of the largest non-government employers in the state — serves as a "powerful economic engine" for New Jersey.

"Casino tax revenues provide vital services for New Jersey's seniors and the disabled, and is essential to our public education system," Ortzman said. "Further, the industry's significant capital investments and purchases of goods and services from vendors throughout the state creates a ripple effect across the economy."

To attract more visitors to the city, Ortzman said, the casino industry will continue to invest in redevelopment projects and non-gaming services.

It's the non-gaming amenities, according to Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine, that can make Atlantic City's casinos shine again in a country where 43 states offer tribal or commercial gaming.

On the Las Vegas strip, Gros said, only about 35% of revenue comes from the casino floor. The majority is the product of food and beverage sales, hotel stays, entertainment purchases, and other business unrelated to gambling.

"If Atlantic City can build itself up and become a regional destination resort, then that's really the answer to its problems," Gros said, stressing the importance of attracting conventions and adding flights into Atlantic City International Airport.

The city benefits, Gros said, from the state's lower-than-most tax rate on gaming.

Casinos in Nevada easily topped casinos in every state in the three categories analyzed by AGA — jobs supported, taxes collected and total economic impact.

In 2018, according to the report, 979 casino gaming locations nationwide were responsible for a total economic impact worth $261 billion, supporting 1.8 million jobs.

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