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Legal sports betting further delayed in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s Sports Wagering Applicant Review Commission delayed a vote to award sports betting licenses to five casinos Wednesday, despite the governor urging the commission to proceed more quickly.Members of the commission met for more than two hours in closed session, then said in open session that they needed to continue gathering information before making decisions on the five sports betting licenses.The commission requested each sports wagering facility applicant to submit supplemental ownership information.The closed session included legal advice from the Maryland Attorney General’s office.Members of the commission then planned to meet on Thursday, Nov. 18, to again consider granting the five sports betting licenses.“I usually manage meetings better than these but I’ve done my best … This has been challenging,” said Thomas Brandt, chair of the commission.On Oct. 21, Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, urged the commission to expedite the launch of the state’s newly legalized sports gambling industry.“No one is pushing harder than I am to get sports betting up and running here in the State of Maryland,” Hogan said in an October news release.“With Marylanders looking forward to betting on the NFL and March Madness, we now expect the legislature’s Sports Wagering Applicant Review Commission to swiftly approve these licenses,” Hogan added.The NFL season began on Sept. 9.In May, Hogan signed major legislation to legalize sports betting in Maryland. In a Wednesday news conference, Hogan decried the pace of implementing that law.

“It’s a very frustrating situation,” he said. “The voters overwhelmingly voted for sports betting. The legislature passed a bill, crafted legislation which they now seem to be … they passed a law they now seem to be ignoring.”Under Maryland law, the State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency must regulate sports wagering, and the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission must review applications for sports wagering facility licensing.People in Maryland can begin legal gambling on sports only after the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission awards sports betting licenses to qualified facilities.Five of the state’s six casinos cleared the Maryland State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency approval and are awaiting final authorization as sports betting facilities from the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission.The five casinos are Hollywood Casino Perryville in Cecil County, Ocean Downs Casino in Worcester County, MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland in Anne Arundel County, and Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore City.  Maryland’s bipartisan sports betting law outlines new efforts and funds to include women and minorities in the state’s emerging sports wagering industry.The law also requires a portion of sports betting revenues to fund Maryland’s public schools.Up to $14.3 million in sports betting revenues would go into Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a multi-billion dollar effort to improve Maryland’s public schools, in fiscal year 2022.

Bryan Sears of The Daily Record contributed to this article.