What’s Going On With Raynham Park’s Sports Betting Application?

Written By Dan Holmes on August 21, 2023 - Last Updated on August 22, 2023
Following legal wrangling and the exit of Caesars Sportsbook MA, will Raynham Park get a retail sportsbook anytime soon? from playma.com

A lot is up in the air surrounding the Massasoit Greyhound Association’s application for a sports betting license at Raynham Park.

Previous plans for the proposed Caesars Sportsbook at Raynham Park would make it the largest free-standing sportsbook in the country. But, legal wrangling over trusts, trustees and other issues have led to the loss of their industry partner, and put into question the viability of a license.

Looking to serve as the latest addition to the growing Massachusetts sports betting market, the facility continues to be a winding, confusing matter, despite decisions made Monday by regulators.

MGC debates next steps

On Monday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted 4-1 to approve the removal of Christopher J. Carney‘s name from the application for a sportsbook at Raynham Park.

Earlier this month, Carney, the owner of Raynham Park, asked to not be included in consideration for the license.

The decision to remove Carney from the application followed multiple public hearings that featured spirited debate as to whether the MGA should be allowed to alter its application before it was considered “suitable.”

Ultimately, the commission decided not to rule on the suitability of the application Monday, choosing to hold off on what appeared would have been a negative vote for Raynham Park.

Future of sports betting at Raynham Park in question

Earlier this month, Caesars Sportsbook Massachusetts backed out of an agreement with MGA to operate a sportsbook at the former racetrack in Raynham. That leaves the MGA with an application but without a sports betting partner. Thus, when and if Raynham Park, a former dog racing track, will get a sportsbook is now in doubt.

Earlier this year, Carney called Caesars the “strongest retail sports gaming brand in the industry” when he announced a partnership that would have Caesars operate the sportsbook at Raynham Park.

But, after the Carney family pivoted and asked the MGC to remove the younger Carney from consideration in the application, Caesars backed off.

“That agreement set out the terms and conditions under which Caesars would essentially operate the sportsbook if MGA were to be awarded the category two license,” Interim Executive Director Todd Grossman told the Boston Herald last week. “As a result of that termination, as of today, MGA is without an entity to operate the sportsbook.”

The Carney family, which has owned the facility for more than two decades, has indicated that it needs a sportsbook and other modern amenities to stay competitive and attract customers.

Carney family trust removed

Also during Monday’s meeting, the MGC debated and voted on whether a trust operated by the Carney family could be removed from asset consideration in the sports wagering license application. That vote went 4-1 in favor of removing the trust, under conditions on how the board of trustees can be constituted.

Last Friday in a hearing, it was revealed that the Carney family had been cited for allegedly violating multiple regulations on several of its properties, including the unlawful storage of waste materials.

It appears the MGA is scrambling to preserve its application and, as MGA lawyer Jed Nosal said, “live to fight another day” in the regulatory process.

In order to secure the possibility of a retail sportsbook at Raynham Park, the MGA will need to either secure a partnership with another sports betting operator, or return to Caesars to attempt a new deal.

Commissioners have varying opinions

The commission was ultimately navigating toward a vote on the “preliminary suitability” of the Raynham Park and Massasoit Greyhound Association application Monday.

Commissioner Nakisha Skinner hinted that she was not inclined to vote for suitability. Likewise, Commissioner Eileen O’Brien noted that without a partner operator like Caesars, “there has been significant change” to the applicant’s request.

O’Brien was the lone dissenting vote. She did not feel it was appropriate to remove Carney and the trust from the asset and application consideration. Commissioner Bradford Hill agreed with O’Brien as Chair Cathy Judd-Stein took the temperature on the MGC before a vote.

Lawyers for the MGA stated that they have a potential arrangement with another sports betting partner, but without a determination from the commission on preliminary suitability, it will be difficult to secure a partnership with them.

Photo by Shutterstock.com
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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a Staff Writer for PlayMA with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He also has extensive experience covering the launch of sports betting in other states, including Ohio and Maryland. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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