Maryland sports betting took a critical step on Wednesday as the governor filled out the remaining seats of the commission tasked to award sports betting licenses.

Gov. Larry Hogan appointed two members – Thomas Brandt and Bert Hash, Jr. – to the state’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission.

Brandt, a former TeleCummunication Systems CFO, and Hash, a retired Municipal Employees Credit Union of Baltimore, will be part of the seven-seat commission – all filled now.

It comes less than two months after Hogan signed the sports betting measure into law. Maryland sports betting is expected to launch later this year, as planned.

Seven-Seat Commission Filled Out Now

The appointment of a Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) was a critical step following the legislation as the commission was authorized to screen and approve licenses for the would-be retail and online sportsbook operators and business – both big and small.

The formulation of the commission was completed on Wednesday when the Republican governor named his two allotted members to the seven-seat commission.

House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones had appointed two members already, as has Senate President Bill Ferguson.

E. Randolph Marrimer – the head of the Lottery and Gaming Control Commission – will also serve as the seventh member of the commission.

What Are the Commission’s Duties?

Among various responsibilities the commission will assume will be determining the licenses based on greater inclusion of minority and women-owned businesses – a unique feature of Maryland sports betting.

That participation should reflect the equity stakes in the companies seeking licenses, according to state lawmakers, who wanted to treat such applicants on a priority basis when it came to mobile sports betting licenses.

Though Maryland lawmakers have said they expect some form of sports betting up and running in time for the upcoming NFL season, the exact timeline is still not clear. The former head of the gaming control agency, Gordon Medenica had shared the possibility of retail sports betting to launch before mobile betting, which the outgoing chief regulator said is unlikely to go live before 2022.

It all depends now on the swiftness of the newly formed licensing body, and the gaming regulators still working on the rules.

Old Line State has six casinos, including Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover. The only AAA Four Dimond Hotel in Ann Arundel County has already built a splendid sports bar, awaiting a nod to be transformed into a sportsbook.

What’s Next?

The license review process will begin after the state’s regulator – Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission – approve sports betting regulation. The commission is expected to review the regulations in its July 15 meeting.

The Sports Wagering Application Review Commission will then review and approve sports betting license applications while giving a priority to minority and female-owned businesses.

Dozens of applications will be rolling in as lawmakers awarded Class A licenses to six casinos, three professional sports teams, and the Maryland Jockey Club.

In addition to the seven named entities, there are 30 open Class B licenses.

Also, there can be as many as 60 mobile licenses. However, Class A and B licenses can apply for online licenses.

On Wednesday, Hogan also named John A. Martin as the new director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency after Medenica announced his retirement in April.

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