The legislation would allow any New Jersey resident who is at least 21 years of age to use computers or electronic hand-held devices to place bets on sports games, as long as the person making the bet is in the state at the time. The sports betting measure was designed to drive new customers to the New Jersey casinos and racetracks, in the hopes that players would later make wagers on table games or play slot machines.

“It’s a key portion of the revenue,” said Senator Raymond Lesniak, who supports the bill. “All the studies we’ve seen determined that the Internet part of sports betting is the most lucrative revenue raiser.”

A state Senate committee on Thursday approved a bill that would legalize sports betting in New Jersey, assuming the federal ban on it in all but four states can be overcome.

Lesniak said the idea is to get a bill to the governor quickly, hope that he signs it, and then have the state file a lawsuit to overturn the federal ban on the grounds that it is unconstitutional as it treats states differently.

The bill will go to the full Senate for a vote on December 15.

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