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Identify the winner: Public trust in public gaming

February 12. 2018 6:16PM

As noted yesterday, we sympathize with the Merrimack woman who regrets signing her name to the back of a Powerball ticket that just happened to win a $560 million jackpot a few weeks ago. She is due in court today in an effort to keep the public from knowing her identity. We hope she doesn’t prevail.

The modern U.S. lottery system began here in New Hampshire in 1963 with the full support of this newspaper. Opponents’ concerns that the lottery would be rigged or fixed by organized crime elements led to extraordinary steps to prevent fraud, etc. The first lottery was an actual sweepstakes race. And the initial directors of the New Hampshire Sweepstakes Commission were retired FBI officers of the highest caliber. They included Edward J. Powers, who had cracked a Brinks robbery case; and Bob Denz, who just died last weekend after several distinguished careers.

The point is that the public must be able to have confidence that the organization that they pay for and in which they participate is not a con game. Everything should be above board. Those who win at the game, especially those who win staggering amounts, ought to be identified. Otherwise, how can the public be assured that a winner isn’t the first cousin or favorite girlfriend of one of those running the game?

The acceptance of “trusts’’ to hide winner identities has ramped up in recent times. We don’t think these trusts should be allowed either, for the same reason.

Yes, lucky multi-million-dollar winners will have their lives changed. People will be hounding or begging or even threatening them. But that’s what security is for and it is part of the price one pays for playing games funded by the public.

The judge should side with the public’s interest here. The Legislature and lottery officials ought to look to change the rules regarding trusts. We don’t trust them.


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