The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), which has been tasked with implementing sports wagering law approved over the summer by Gov. Charlie Baker, could soon provide more insight on the rollout of sports betting at Raynham Park and Suffolk Downs. During a Thursday meeting, the commission may shed more light on how soon the state’s two simulcasting facilities can stand up sports betting operations.
Regulators have indicated they will discuss and might vote on a “category two license timeline.” That category covers Suffolk Downs and Raynham Park under state law, two entities that have so far been excluded from public timeline talks as they assess their needs and communicate potential challenges to regulators. According to the state’s sports betting law, category two applicants are to make a capital investment of at least $7.5 million.
During a commission hearing in October, MGC Executive Director Karen Wells said category two applicants were “intentionally” left out of timelines because the commission needed more information from them. “We need more information from them on their plans and their partners before we can figure out where they fit into the timeline,” she said at the time, as reported by MassLive.
MGC Executive Director Karen Wells Raynham Park owner Chris Carny told the cited source that he is “within two weeks” of naming a partnership with an outside company to run their sports betting operations. Additionally, Steven Eichel, an attorney representing Raynham Park in dealings with gaming regulators, said the business cannot start the sports betting application process until it closes that deal.
“I don’t think it’s telling any state secrets to say that we want a partner who is going to give us the largest projected market share,” he said, as reported by the above-mentioned media. “But at the same time, it goes without saying that that can only happen with an operating partner who’s one of the major players and who’s got real credibility in both the marketplace for consumers as well as with the Gaming Commission.”
It is worth mentioning that the Gaming Commission has already approved a late-January launch for in-person betting at casinos and early March for mobile betting.
Raynham Park has started building a 30,000-square-foot gaming facility in Bristol County. Meanwhile, Suffolk Downs is looking for real estate after its racetrack in East Boston closed in 2019 and a sportsbook to run its wagering operations. Additionally, Suffolk Downs is also going through a leadership change, as the company announced last week that Michael Buckley will take over as chief operating officer of Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, which runs the simulcasting center at Suffolk Downs in East Boston.
According to local news, background deals are being worked out between applicants in all three categories – category one covers casinos, while category three covers digital betting. Although details remain unknown, potential applicants indicated that they are in conversations with either current gaming licensees like the casinos or other sports betting hopefuls.
MEETING NOTIFICATION: MGC Public Meeting on 11/10/22 at 10:00 am using Remote Collaboration Technology. Agenda available here: https://t.co/WWJttPzyrr pic.twitter.com/ftf2gt0s29
— MA Gaming Commission (@MassGamingComm) November 8, 2022 During Thursday’s Gaming Commission meeting, regulators will also return to and potentially vote on a set of six regulations that they covered during a meeting in late October that collectively make up the “sports wagering operator licensing framework.”
Additionally, they will discuss five sports betting regulations, updates on Plainridge Park Casino’s third quarter, a commission budget update, and a report on an Encore Boston Harbor employee survey, among other things.