The Texas Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a proposal to allow online sports betting sites like Beto Texas Senate to compete with traditional sportsbooks in an effort to lure more people to the state’s state-run gambling markets.
BottoTexas, which currently is operated by a consortium of online sportsbooks, said Wednesday that it would open a new state-owned website on Thursday for the first time since 2016 to allow its users to bet on the Texas Senate, according to a statement posted to the company’s website.
The site, which the company said will launch in the coming days, would allow users to create their own bet and then bet on a Senate race in Texas.
Bottega Veneta, a Las Vegas sportsbook, announced last week that it will also open a state-operated site to compete in the state Senate race.
The company said it will allow users who are registered on the site to bet $1,000 to $1.5 million on the race in November.
The state Senate races are the top state contests for Texas.
Senate President Don Huffines said Wednesday the state is “ready to take this seriously,” but the state will not compete with other state-regulated online sportsbook sites like DraftKings or FanDuel.
The Senate has a majority of seats in the chamber, meaning it can block any legislation from passing if it so chooses.
Huffines has previously said that he thinks the Senate will pass legislation to open up online sports gambling, but that the state must be prepared to go to court to fight any attempt to pass legislation that could harm the state-based online sportsbetting industry.
State Sen. John Whitmire (R-Dallas), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he’s concerned about the legislation because the state would lose more than $100 million if the legislation is passed.
He said he supports online sports bettors.
“I think the bill does not go far enough in our direction, and I hope that the Texas Legislature will see this is an important step toward bringing the industry back into Texas,” Whitmire said Wednesday.
Hewitt, who is a Texas attorney who represents sportsbooks and online sports, told The Associated Press that there are “serious questions” about how online sports will be regulated in the Senate, and he said he thinks it’s unlikely that online sports bets would be allowed on the floor of the chamber.
Texas’ top sports book, DraftKings, told the AP it has not taken bets from the Senate since 2015.
It’s unclear if the site would be able to offer any games, such as the presidential primary, on its site.
Whitmire said he also thinks the proposal is a step in the right direction.
“If the Texas State Senate is willing to get serious about this issue, then I think this bill is an opportunity for us to take it seriously,” Whitisher said.
Whitire said he believes Texas could have a statewide system of sports betting by 2020.
If that were to happen, Whitmire noted that Texas would have a better chance at attracting more people from outside the state to participate in sports betting.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.