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OUR VIEW: Don’t trust Lottery officials to commission own study

Frustrated with state lawmakers’ unwillingness to expand video lottery, South Dakota Lottery officials won’t take no for an answer.

“I guess you can call us stubborn,” Lottery Executive Director Norm Lingle was quoted by The Associated Press as saying last week. “Our intentions are to push through on all of these objectives. It’s going to take some lift.”

With that in mind, Lingle received permission from the state Lottery Commission to seek a study of problem gambling. According to the AP, Lingle thinks the study will show legislators they needn’t be worried about expanded gambling leading to more addiction and associated social problems.

Have you noticed the problem with the study yet? We sure have.

Roll it over in your mind for a second: Our state’s top lottery official is aggressively determined to expand video lottery, but he’s been stymied by concerns about its addictiveness. So he’s going to commission a study that he openly expects to refute those concerns.

How fair and objective do you suppose that study will be?

If efforts to expand gambling are to be weighed against a study about problem gambling, the study should not be commissioned by the very same lottery officials who are proposing the expansion. The conflict of interest is painfully obvious and already has been blatantly illustrated by Lingle’s comments.

If the Legislature agrees that a study is needed, it should commission and fund the study independently of the Lottery Commission with the goal of obtaining truly independent information.