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Vernon Kirk

Biography: Vernon A. Kirk Delaware Lottery Director

Vernon Kirk has been with the Delaware Lottery since its startup in 1975, beginning as Administrative Assistant to the Director.
He served in a variety of operational, financial and administrative management capacities prior to his appointment as Director last October.
Kirk has received the Delaware Award for Excellence in State Service from Governor Jack Markell and was cited with Tributes from both chambers of the Delaware General Assembly for his leadership during the development and successful implementation of the state’s ventures into sports wagering and casino table games.
He has a degree in Political Science/Public Administration from the University of Delaware.

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Vernon Kirk, who began his career with the Delaware Lottery during its start-up in 1975, was appointed Lottery Director last October, 2011. Kirk became the 6th Director in the Lottery’s 37 year history.
When we asked Vernon about the Lottery of today versus 1975, he spoke of the growth of the industry in general and Delaware in particular, recalling for example Delaware’s first Lotto jackpot was $80,000 in 1983, a considerable difference from the $50 million Powerball jackpot recently won by a Wilmington couple. But, Kirk said, of all the aspects of public gaming that have changed over the years, none have been more significant than technology. He noted that, in its early days, the Lottery didn’t even have PCs in the office; data was placed on IBM keypunch cards and stored on tape drives that were housed off-site. In fact, in 1978, when Delaware began its first online game, Play 3, the Lottery piggybacked off of the Pennsylvania Lottery’s central computer system because it didn’t have one of its own.
Kirk went on to say that as the lottery industry continues to evolve in terms of modernization and innovation, his philosophy is to embrace change as a way of keeping the Lottery and its products fresh and relevant. When asked where he saw the Delaware Lottery heading under his stewardship, Kirk laid out his agenda going forward.
“For the near term, the passage of the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 has created several new opportunities for the Lottery and we intend to take full advantage of them,” said Kirk. He described how one part of the Act has already been implemented, the expansion of the Sports Lottery to include Sports Retailers located throughout the State and that the expansion has been very successful to date, with a combined increase in handle of more than 40% over last year. Kirk also said he believes the Lottery will add more sports retail locations next year.
The introduction of Keno is the next major project on the table, and Kirk points out that it will be another vehicle to expand and strengthen the retailer network. He said by enhancing the product mix with this exciting, fast paced game, it will not only bring in new trade styles, but also allow the Lottery to benefit from the market experience of some of the Lottery’s many core retailers.
Lastly, Kirk said, Delaware will be unique with its introduction of iGaming. “With today’s players becoming increasingly more mobile, interactive and tech savvy, lotteries must explore alternative ways to provide them new, • Issue 39 TICKET TALK 1 Meet the New Lottery Director (CONT’D p.2) Prize Number of Winners Amount 1st 2 $500 2nd 5 $250 3rd 52 $100 4th 51 $50 innovative and secure products. The internet is one such way and we will seize this opportunity to utilize it.”
Having said that, we asked Kirk if he felt the introduction of internet gaming would have a negative impact on the Lottery’s core business partners, the retailers.
“There is precedent in Europe where internet gaming has been legal and operating for the last 10 years, and independent studies have shown that lotteries that have introduced internet gaming saw increased sales at their brick and mortar retail locations,” said Kirk. It is suggested that one reason for the increase is that some younger, non-lottery players actually learn about the games on the internet and then impulse buy at a retail location during regular shopping. Kirk added there will be opportunities to encourage play at retail locations, perhaps through player cards and Player’s Club promotions. “One of our goals will be to push players back to the brick and mortar locations as much as possible,” said Kirk.
“Regardless of all of the emerging changes, we are still a lottery,” said Kirk, “and our retailers are at the core of our Lottery; retailers maintain relevance and importance in all that we do.” Kirk went on to note that the Lottery has always had a great relationship with its retailers and he intends to see that great relationship continues. “It’s not about any one individual, it’s about the organization, it’s about the Lottery and its partners,” he said.

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