Gov. Martin O'Malley has named the members of a powerful new body that will oversee most legal gambling in Maryland, retaining five members of the current Lottery Commission and adding two prominent Baltimore-area business leaders.
Among the new appointees to the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission is John Morton III, a retired bank president who chaired the advisory work group that helped put together the gambling expansion legislation that the General Assembly approved during a special session in August.
One provision of that legislation replaces the current lottery panel with a new, seven-member commission with expanded powers. Other provisions go into effect only if voters approve them at the polls Nov. 6, but creation of the commission does not depend on that vote.
The other newly appointed commissioner is Bert J. Hash Jr., chief executive of the Municipal Employees Credit Union of Baltimore.
Moving from the old commission to the new are J. Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore; F. Vernon Boozer, a Towson lawyer and former Republican leader of the Maryland Senate; E. Randolph Marriner, CEO of Marriner Enterprises; Diane Lee McGraw, a computer scientist retired from the National Security Agency; and S. Kimberly Robertson Pannell, senior partner in an accounting firm.
Fowler was chairman of the old commission, but members of the new panel will choose their own officers.
The old commission, which expired Oct. 1, was the licensing authority and regulator for Maryland's casinos in addition to its role as overseer of the Maryland Lottery. The new panel, according to the Department of Legislative Services, will have a greater role in performing research and analysis of the gambling industry and in making legislative recommendations to the General Assembly. It will begin operations next month.
Perhaps its most important new role will take effect if voters approve Question 7, which would allow a casino in Prince George's County and table games at Maryland's other five licensed sites for slots.
A yes vote would give the panel the authority to approve future tax rate cuts for the Maryland Live Casino in Arundel Mills, the yet-to-open Harrah's Casino in Baltimore and the Hollywood Casino in Perryville to reflect increased competition from the Prince George's casino. The legislature would have an opportunity to reject the cuts.