In a twist that delays a decision on a proposed sportsbook at Raynham Park, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission debated a withdrawal motion from the applicants on Tuesday.
Christopher J. Carney, the owner of Raynham Park, has asked to not be included in consideration for the license needed for a sportsbook.
Previous plans for the proposed Caesars Sportsbook at Raynham Park would make the retail sportsbook the largest free-standing sportsbook in the US.
It would serve as the latest addition to the growing Massachusetts sports betting market.
Potential sports betting at Raynham Park
Raynham Park has been in the Carney family for more than two decades. Christopher’s father, George, helmed the facility for many years when it hosted dog racing.
In the past, Christopher Carney has expressed the desire for a sports betting facility that could revitalize the location. Now, as one of the persons listed on the application from Massasoit Greyhound Association, Inc. (DBA Raynham Park), the new request asks that Carney not be considered “a qualifier for the Category 2 Sports Wagering Operator License.”
Attorneys for Carney explained that he will not be involved in management of the sportsbook. In addition, a trust in his name should not be considered among the legal and financial associations with a potential license for sports wagering at Raynham Park.
Those attorneys explained that “as a matter of law,” the trust cannot be considered in regards to a license application before the MGC.
Two separate withdrawal requests
The Investigations and Enforcement Bureau has performed a “suitability” investigation into Carney and others named on the original application, which if granted, would allow for a brick-and-mortar Caesars Massachusetts Sportsbook at Raynham Park.
According to Loretta Lillios, Director of the IEB, the Raynham Park applicants requested a formal withdrawal of their application after the agency had investigated Carney. The legal representation for Raynham Park disputed that, pointing to a second withdrawal request which references the desire to not include Carney and his association with the Carney Trust Fund.
The withdrawal requests from Raynham Park were submitted last Thursday, according to MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein.
Lillios explained that the IEB has completed “all tasks assigned to it,” as it pertains to the Raynham Park application. She revealed that her department wishes to present its findings from the investigation into the Raynham Park application.
“This has been a significant body of work here,” Lillios said. “It’s (IEB’s) desire to move forward here.”
According to Lillios, even if Christopher Carney is not listed as an applicant, “there is an entanglement with other applicants.” Lillios appeared to be referring to George Carney.
So, where does Raynham Park’s application for a sportsbook go from here?
Commissioner Brad Hill expressed the mood of the MGC when he said, “I would like to move forward with the application today, as we thought we would be doing.”
“I don’t want to make a decision in a vacuum,” added Commissioner Jordan Maynard, indicating his desire to publicly review the application from the Raynham Park group, including details pertaining to Carney.
On Tuesday, the MGC decided to not have the IEB present its findings, instead choosing to review the legal ramifications of the multiple requests for withdrawal of Christopher Carney as a “qualifier” on the Raynham Park application. It’s possible the MGC may review the IEB’s findings in the future, but no date for a hearing on this matter was set.
A new application will need to be considered at some point in the future before sports betting can be given the green light at Raynham Park.
Attorneys for Raynham Park (as Massasoit Greyhound Association, Inc.) explained that Christopher Carney would be available to be questioned by the MGC about the matter of an application, even though he would not be involved with the operation of any future sportsbook on the site.
The MGC is working under time sensitivity on the Raynham Park application. The commission originally hoped to have a decision on the application by Aug. 18.