Caesars Sportsbook Raynham Park Deal Terminated Amid Licensing Concerns

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Caesars Sportsbook, the online sports betting arm of Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment, has recently terminated its agreement with the Massachusetts Greyhound Association, or MGA, and its Raynham Park facility (pictured) near Taunton in the south of the state.

Caesars planned to license a huge 30,000-square-foot sportsbook at the former greyhound racing venue. The half-built venue was planned as “one of the largest sports gaming destinations, not only in Massachusetts, but in the United States,” according to an associate on the sportsbook development, Chris Carney.

However, the same Carney’s involvement has been the center of ongoing discussions regarding the suitability of Raynham Park for a sports betting license.

Now, Caesars has apparently left the picture, and the entire application from the MGA looks to be on the rocks.

“It would not be prudent to continue the review of MGA’s application as planned where Caesars’ role is a substantial part of the submitted application,” said Massachusetts Gaming Commission Interim Executive Director Todd Grossman at a hearing on Friday.

“As a matter of law, it’s difficult to envision the applicant’s move toward a temporary license being granted by the Commission.”

A Partnership in Jeopardy

The partnership between Caesars and Raynham Park was initially seen as a promising venture.

Raynham Park, despite no longer hosting live greyhound races, was technically eligible to open a retail sportsbook.

Before Caesars, bet365 was in line to collaborate with the facility. However, they withdrew their interest in January, leading Caesars to step in as the next potential partner.

It has now withdrawn its application too, potentially because of complications involving the Carney family.

George Carney is the owner of the track. But his son, Christopher Carney, has often been locally reported as the head of the business in recent years.

The Carneys were fined by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection several times in the past over the improper handling of hazardous construction materials. The family denies Christopher is also involved in Raynham Park. But he has publicly spoken on the sportsbook plans previously.

Excellent Location

The Gaming Commission is currently deliberating whether Carney is a key stakeholder or not. This debate has yet to reach a conclusion, even after an extensive meeting.

Despite the current lack of a sportsbook provider and the MGC not looking keen on a license for now, the operator hasn’t given up hope yet.

It suggested ending Carney’s involvement in the application and the ongoing deal could be a makeweight.

“There is a distinct possibility, I’d say more than that, that we will be able to revive the agreement with Caesars,” a Raynham Park spokesperson said during the meeting.

Caesars was previously fully on board with the plans, but hasn’t issued an update since announcing it six months ago.

“Raynham Park is in an excellent location in southeast Massachusetts and will be one of just a few retail sports betting locations in the Commonwealth,” Caesars Digital President Eric Hession said back in January.

Market Concerns

Raynham Park was an active greyhound racing track for moe than 50 years, until Massachusetts outlawed the sport in 2009.

There are currently three retail sportsbook venues in the state: WynnBET at Encore Boston Harbor, BetMGM at MGM Springfield, and Barstool Sportsbook at Plainridge Park. Barstool will soon be rebranding as ESPN sportsbook, after owner Penn Entertainment sold Barstool Sports media back to founder Dave Portnoy.

Caesars Sportsbook may return to Raynham Park, or it could look at the other former greyhound racing track in the state, Suffolk Downs. It is already up and running its licensed Massachusetts sports betting platform with Encore Boston Harbor.

Encore’s owners, Wynn Resorts, recently announced the closure of its WynnBET sportsbook app in eight markets, leaving only Massachusetts and Nevada online. That could potentially open the door for a Caesars retail book at the Encore, since the two operators already have some form of sports betting partnership.

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