SO NOW A FORMAL COMMISSION of citizens has recommended that gambling be legalized in the District. They are not just talking about that little bingo game at the church, either. They mean things like a numbers game and playing the horses. But if you're wondering if we'll see any of this action soon, the answer is: Don't bet on it; evidently nobody in the race for mayor wants to take the lead with this proposal.

Our own first reaction was that the District provided a perfectly natural setting for gamblers, with or without the addition of such cumbersome things as, say, horses. You could begin, for example, with a municipal pool on the date that this year's city budget will finally be approved by Congress. Anyone getting the correct year would win a certain amount; and the right number of the Congress that passes it (95? 96? higher?) could pay off as well. Or if you want off-track betting, the fitting spot to conduct that would be in the pit at the visitors center, where you could bet on arrival times of the trains. School buildings that are being closed around town could be turned into adult-aducation centers for shooting craps the way they do now in some of the young people's high schools.

Anyway, it will be a while yet. In the meantime, intowners will continue their regular visits to the suburbs to enjoy a little action in the Maryland lottery or at the tracks. Others will just keep on patronizing the illegal numbers that have run here since Creation - or wait for the football-card season at the office. And kids will go on their door-to-door rounds with the raffle tickets while Mom and Dad play bridge. We're not sure how any of this differs, in essence, from all the other ways that people already can make foolish or dangerous investments in hopes of a bonanza - including the stock market, real estate or business ventures in general. The decisions make by the local government, whatever they turn out to be, should be concentrated on what kinds of gambling should be permitted - and whether any of its either appealing or worth it to the city. That's good reason to conduct a referedum on this subject - without speculating on the results.