Q&A stories are both my favorite kind of stories to write and my least favorite.
They’re my favorite because if you do them right, they’re wildly informative and they appear complete, a good insight into a person and why that person is important.
They’re my least favorite because it’s almost impossible to get all the information included that you want. You only do Q&A’s with interesting, important people who have a lot to talk about. By the end, you have about 2,000 words of a story that needs to be cut to about 600.
But have no fear, the Internet is here! Silvan “Sil” Lutkewitte III chatted a good bit about his first three weeks on the job as the executive director of the Pennsylvania Lottery when I talked to him in early February, and the story is in Friday’s Business Journal. It was a good look at how a person in charge of a $3.7 billion sales operation gets assimilated into a business he has only working knowledge of, and to see how he can hit the ground running and start making progress.
However, with all the talk — self-required talk, by the way — we had to do about the lottery privatization debate, I had to cut some stuff out. Consider this the deleted scenes track of the interview, the best questions that had to be cut for space. The discussion is still good, but after you read it, you probably have an idea why these were the questions that were cut from the final version:
Q: What is the first thing you did when you took the job?
A: The real answer is I was given a tour of the (lottery headquarters in Lower Swatara Township). I had the opportunity to address the folks (at the headquarters) that work for the lottery. I think it was a good thing for these folks to meet me, and it was good for me to meet them.
Q: How has the first month on the job been going?
It’s been good. We’ve been having some discussions in the General Assembly regarding profit margin relief. That’s a significant discussion point. We’ve talked about what’s in our future, what new games there can be, a lot of which (Meuser) discussed in testimony in front of the Finance Committee. We’ve been planning for some budget hearings coming up. (The staff) is introducing me to some of our corporate accounts, and there have been a few reviews of those corporate accounts. That’s where the difference is made in our business. We focus on broadening our player base and bringing in new retailers.
Q: What is the threat level for the lottery to be privatized?
Honestly, at this time I don’t think I can really assess that. I can tell you that in my conversations with some folks in the administration, it hasn’t come up. We’re here to grow profits for older Pennsylvanians and we’re going to do it in a responsible way. In three weeks on the job, the concept of privatization has not come up.
Q: How does the lottery grow?
With the acknowledgment that we need to expand our player base. We need to get folks that have not played the lottery in the past and bring them into what we offer ... and we need to look at and refine our social responsibility.
One side note that couldn’t even fit in the items I cut: When it comes to “social responsibility,” Lutkewitte specifically singled out minors, problem gamblers and people who really can’t afford to gamble as the groups the lottery needs to monitor to make sure those people aren’t being targeted for future growth.