Raynham Park Caesars Sportsbook Further Delayed on Suitability Concerns

Posted on: August 3, 2023, 09:19h. 

Last updated on: August 3, 2023, 11:54h.

The father-son owners of Raynham Park, George and Chris Carney, want to bring a Caesars Sportsbook to their former greyhound racetrack. But the Carneys’ sports betting ambitions remain tied up with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC).

Raynham Park Caesars Sportsbook Massachusetts sports betting
Chris (left) and George Carney stand inside their Raynham Park pari-mutuel off-track betting facility on Sept. 29, 2022. The Carneys want to bring a Caesars Sportsbook to their former greyhound racetrack in Massachusetts. (Image: Boston Herald)

Raynham Park ceased live greyhound on Jan. 1, 2010, after state voters earlier passed a ballot referendum banning dog racing. Until this month, the pari-mutuel facility operated as an off-track betting business offering wagering opportunities on greyhound races contested outside of the commonwealth.

But Massachusetts law, effective Aug. 1, 2023, now bans greyhound wagering regardless of where the race is held. Raynham Park’s OTB continues to provide bettors access to thoroughbred and harness racing and simulcasts. But for the deteriorating racetrack to find new life, the Carneys believe the best bet is a sportsbook.

In January, the Carneys announced a partnership with Caesars Entertainment to bring the Las Vegas Strip casino giant to southeastern Massachusetts. The younger Carney, Chris, has known Dan Shapiro, chief development officer for Caesars Digital, for many years. Chris and Dan are responsible for the casino and sports betting behemoth agreeing to bring its iconic brand to Raynham, a suburban town about 30 miles south of Boston.

Suitability Setbacks

In June, the Carneys’ Raynham Park and Caesars Sportsbook applied for a Category 2 sports wagering license with the MGC. Cat. 2 sportsbook applications come with a $200K nonrefundable fee, which is used to cover the regulatory costs to review the application.

The most comprehensive part of the application review process is determining whether the major stakeholders behind the entity are suitable to hold a sports betting license. While the MGC doesn’t make those suitability outcomes public, a problem was found in approving Chris.

That resulted in the MGC continually delaying a vote on the Raynham Park/Caesars Cat. 2 license. The applicants are now seeking to revise the submission by removing Chris from the tender.

The Carneys say Chris won’t have a financial interest in the sports betting operation should it be authorized. But MGC officials, including Investigations Enforcement Bureau Director Loretta Lilios, said the younger Carney remains “integrally intertwined” with the business.

The MGC during its Wednesday discussion on the Raynham Park Caesars Sportsbook application opted to further postpone a vote on the submission. The MGC will next consider the motion during its August 18 meeting.

Sportsbook Details

The Carneys had hoped to have the Caesars Sportsbook at Raynham Park up and running in time for this fall’s NFL and college football seasons. That time line has long passed because of the MGC delays.

Caesars has suggested building a standalone structure adjacent to the former greyhound track that would span about 60,000 square feet. According to their earlier plans, the Carneys would bankroll the $28 million investment. The facility would come with a capacity for up to 2,000 people, including  standing room.

Caesars is already operating an online sportsbook in Massachusetts through its partnership with Wynn Resorts’ Encore Boston Harbor. The state’s three casinos are afforded Category 1 sports betting licenses, which allow them to operate in-person sports betting and up to two online platforms.