Gambling commission “struggled” over suitability of Raynham Park partner

The gambling commission’s rejection of Plainridge Racecourse as a bidder for the state’s slot parlor license on Monday overwhelmed another decision, released at the same time, which approved Raynham Park as a bidder. But there are some interesting nuggets in the in the written ruling on the former dog track and its partner, Greenwood Racing, which suggest the bid narrowly sidestepped a disaster.

The commission said it struggled over whether to approve Robert Green, chairman of Greenwood Racing, due to his relationship and business dealings with Robert Brennan, the onetime head of First Jersey Securities. Brennan starred in his firm’s TV commercials in the 1980s, but in 2001 was sentenced to more than nine years in prison for money laundering and bankruptcy fraud.

Commissioners questioned Green about his relationship with Brennan at a hearing in July.

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Though the panel believes Green testified candidly, they found his testimony and business dealings with Brennan “extremely troubling” and “disappointing,” according to the commission’s 8-page decision.

“Mr. Green does not show any understanding of why the relationship with Mr. Brennan and the transactions they entered into show a serious lack of judgment on his part,” the commission wrote.

The commission “struggled with whether it should find Mr. Green suitable,” the panel wrote.

Commissioners have the power to rule any key person in a casino bid unsuitable, and allow the applicant to replace the person and move forward. But in Green’s case it’s hard to imagine how the bid could have survived without the head of the company.

In the end, the commission considered that Green has had no business dealings with Brennan in the past 17 years, and by a majority vote found Green suitable to bid for a state license, “but with reservations and subject to certain conditions.” Green must not have any business transactions with Brennan and the commission wants him to report any social contact with Brennan, if Raynham Park wins the license. The decision did not say how many commissioners opposed Green.

Raynham Park is the third developer formally approved to bid for the slot parlor. The others are The Cordish Cos., seeking to build a slot parlor in Leominster, and an affiliate of Rush Street Gaming, which intends to build in Millbury.

Background checks are ongoing for Penn National Gaming, which has proposed a slot parlor in Tewksbury.