25 Feb

Len Ainsworth selling majority shares of Pokies Business to Novomatic

Len Ainsworth

Len Ainsworth, photo Forbes

Len Ainsworth is one of Australia’s most remarkable businessmen. In 1953, at the age of just 29, he established what quickly became one of the world’s largest poker machine manufacturers, Aristocrat Leisure. Four decades later, he sold that company and founded a similar brand, Ainsworth Game Technology. Now at the age of 92, he’s selling off his majority shares to Novomatic, an Austrian-based manufacturer of pokies and other gambling devices.

Although less famous than Ainsworth’s Australian pokies manufacturers, Novomatic has been around since 1980 when it was founded by business magnate Johann Graf. The company has quietly grown into a multi-billion dollar business, racking up total revenue of €3.2 billion in 2012, with €359 million being sheer profit.

Novomatic already holds offices in 50 countries worldwide, operating 230,000 poker machines and other gambling devices, as well as owning several casinos with locations in regions like Berlin, Germany and Santiago, Chile. The company has agreed to pay AUD $437 million for Len’s 53% stake in Ainsworth Game Technology, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

The company’s board issued a press release regarding Len Ainsworth’s share sale, stating their dedicated support. “Mr Ainsworth agreed to sell his 172.1 million ordinary shares at $2.75 per share for cash consideration…” read the report. “The board of AGT supports the transaction and will convene an extraordinary general meeting of AGT shareholders to seek the necessary approval.”

Ainsworth and Novomatic Storm US Market

Thanks to a USD$38 million (AUD$54mm) acquisition of US-based Nova Technologies LLC late last year (finalized mid-January 2016), Ainsworth Game Technology’s expansion into North America has seen the company grow immensely. Nova Tech is a major supplier of Class II poker machines – or slot machines, as their called in the US – to Tribal-owned casinos across that region.

Todd Eilers, Principal of research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, believes Novomatic’s new role as majority owner will “significantly accelerate” the company’s expansion plans throughout the western hemisphere. “Novomatic has been quietly building up its North American infrastructure over the past three years and is currently licensed in a large number of U.S. markets,” explained Eilers.

The North American pokies market is currently dominated by two major manufacturers of casino gaming equipment, International Game Technology (IGT) and Scientific Games Corp. Their commanding presence is greatly attributed to recent acquisitions totaling USD$15 billion. The combination of Novomatic and Ainsworth brands could give these two companies another fierce rival to compete with.

Ainsworth Game Technology is in the process of solidifying its North American presence with the construction of a 291,000 square-foot head office and manufacturing plant in Las Vegas, Nevada. The structure is located along Beltway 215, just off South Jones Boulevard. The photograph below, captures by Joshua Dahl of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, reveals progress on Ainsworth’s new US headquarters as of November 2015.

Ainsworth North America, Las Vegas, Nevada

Ainsworth Showcasing First Class II Pokies

The Australian pokies giant is spearheading its movement into American Class II gaming with an appearance at next months’ Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention in Phoenix, Arizona on March 13-16. The company plans to exhibit over 50 new game titles, including Class II and Class III poker machines.

Mike Dreitzer, President of Ainsworth North America, said the showcase “provides a tremendous opportunity to begin a new era at Ainsworth with the introduction of our Class II product, which has been in high demand since we announced the deal last year.”