Harrah’s Entertainment CEO and President Gary Loveman is taking particular delight in the resurgence of the Boston Celtics this season, and not just because he’s been a fan of the team since the glory days of Larry Bird.
Loveman, a Massachusetts resident since the early 1980s and a former associate professor at Harvard University, officially became a minority owner of the Celtics last week, just as the team equaled its best start to a season at 20-2.
"The Celtics have a been a great story this season and I’m thoroughly enjoying every second of it," said Loveman on Tuesday as he attended a legislative hearing at the State House regarding a proposal to build three casinos in Massachusetts. "I grew up in Indiana. I’ve been a basketball fan all my life and I’ve been following the Celtics for 25 years. So to be a part of the team is a great honor."
The transaction, however, was far from seamless. Because of Loveman’s position with a gaming company, NBA Commissioner David Stern originally denied his proposed involvement with the team. But the Celtics’ Managing Partner Wyc Grousbeck was persistent and finally got approval from the league in early December.
"It just became official last week, but it’s been something that has taken a while," said Loveman, who is a member of the board of trustees for Children’s Hospital in Boston along with Grousbeck’s wife, Corinne. "I give the NBA a lot of credit. They already have one team that is owned by a casino in the Sacramento Kings. Many of the other sports leagues — particularly the NFL — aren’t even close to something like that."
A caveat to the deal is that all Harrah’s sportsbooks, including Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, Flamingo and Rio, have pulled Boston Celtics game off the board.
This was a move that came as no surprise since the Palms casino, which is operated by the Maloof family that owns the Kings, has not accepted bets on NBA teams since it opened in 2001. Also, The Golden Nugget does not accept bets on games involving the NFL’s Houston Texans because the casino’s chief executive, Tilman Fertitta, has a minority stake in the team.