Back-room and clandestine sports betting could be a thing of the past in New Jersey if state lawmakers succeed in lifting a federal ban on sports wagering, a move that could bring more revenue into the state’s coffers.

A resolution urging Congress to end the federal restriction last week moved out of the Senate Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee and onto the Senate floor. An identical measure sits in the Assembly’s Tourism and Gaming Committee.

Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, sponsor of the resolution, said New Jersey could gain “hundreds of millions of dollars” from sports wagering revenue.

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that illegal sports betting in the U.S. is in excess of $300 billion a year,” Lesniak said. “So we believe we could capture a lot of revenues from allowing sports betting at our casinos and at our race tracks.”

Supporters of the resolution believe that moving the initiative through the legislature could prompt the state’s congressional delegation to push the matter in Congress. Lesniak said he also plans to file suit in U.S. district court along with two New Jersey racing associations to overturn the ban, saying he believes the restriction violates the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause. New Jersey’s casino industry is still reviewing whether to join in the suit, Lesniak said.

Currently, four states — Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana — are exempt from the federal sports wagering ban. Nevada is the only state that conducts such betting.

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