The Caesars flag will finally hang on a building in Massachusetts now that the owners of the Raynham Park simulcasting facility have reached a deal to launch a sports-betting partnership with gambling behemoth Caesars Entertainment.
Chris Carney and his father, George Carney, have filed a request with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to operate a sportsbook with Caesars at their former greyhound track in Raynham. It still operates as a simulcasting parlor, where gamblers can place bets on televised horse and dog races, even though live racing ended there more than a decade ago.
If the request is approved, customers will soon be able to bet on much more than that, now that the Carneys have teamed up with one of the largest casino operators in the country.
As operators of former racetracks, the Carneys and the owners of the Suffolk Downs simulcasting parlor are each eligible for one brick-and-mortar sports-betting license, per the terms of a state law that the Legislature passed last year legalizing sports bets in Massachusetts. Sterling Suffolk Racecourse has not yet announced a partner or location for its future sports-betting facility.
Caesars had already decided to enter the Massachusetts sports betting arena by teaming up with Wynn Resorts to use one of the two online licenses allocated to Wynn for its Encore Boston Harbor casino. This new deal with Raynham Park only involves a brick-and-mortar license, not online betting. The Carneys are still looking for an online partner.
The deal came together quickly after Chris Carney made his pitch to Dan Shapiro, chief development officer with Caesars Digital, at the Breeders’ Cup in Kentucky two months ago. Shapiro took a close look at the Carneys’ plans for Raynham Park, visited the site, and liked what he saw. Chris Carney said he and his father are investing $28 million to put up a 60,000-square-foot building at the track site, with more than half of the space dedicated to sports betting, and a capacity of up to 2,000, including standing room.
“Caesars has casinos in many markets around the country but doesn’t have any in Massachusetts or anywhere in New England,” Shapiro said. “We believe having that retail presence in a market helps us. Not only do we generate revenues on the retail side, but we also believe it helps our online sports business in a number of ways.”
Shapiro said Caesars essentially will operate the sports-gambling business as a tenant of the Carneys in the new building, which is slated to open in late spring or early summer. Construction started last August. Caesars will likely offer sports betting in the current building for a few months until the new one opens, assuming the gaming commission gives the green light within the next two to three months; the existing building will be torn down to make way for warehouse construction.
Caesars Entertainment, based in Nevada, was known as Eldorado Resorts until it acquired Caesars in 2020 and adopted the name; it later acquired the United Kingdom-based William Hill sports-betting company, and rebranded the US arm of that business as Caesars Sportsbook. The previous company, known as Caesars, had once tried to get into Massachusetts by partnering with the owners of Suffolk Downs on a resort casino bid, but eventually walked away, and the gaming commission awarded the Boston-area casino license to Wynn Resorts instead.
Chris Carney said the Caesars brand will help draw customers to the sports-betting parlor, because of its broad name recognition. The business will be called Caesars Sportsbook at Raynham Park.
Chris Carney said he currently employs about 120 people at Raynham Park, but expects to ramp that up to 300, in part because the new building will feature a full-service restaurant. He said his operation will stand out compared to those of his rivals because it will be a standalone sportsbook business, as opposed to a larger casino that has space set aside for sports bets.
He said he’s looking forward to tapping into the fervent following for the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox.
“You never go a season [in Boston] without somebody making the playoffs,” he said. “It’s going to be a sports bar, with fine dining, on steroids.”
Jon Chesto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.