Mike Dreitzer has been the leader of the North America division of Ainsworth Game Technology since 2013. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros recently about the company’s approach to the opportunities available today.
Ainsworth North America has just opened a new state-of-the-art headquarters in Las Vegas. What does that mean for operations in North America?
Well, it obviously is an enormous step forward for us. We are very happy with how our building turned out. It’s a 290,000-square-foot facility. That means a couple of important things. No. 1, I think it shows a commitment to the market in both North and Latin America, in a way that is very profound, and very visible, of course.
Operationally, it enables us to service our customers better. We can reduce turnaround time, and reduce lead time, and get things to customers in a scale that we’ve not been able to do. And there’s plenty of room for us to grow.
Former Aruze Americas CEO Kelcey Allison just joined the company, and other people on your staff have long experience. Is it important to get all those knowledgeable, experienced players inside the company?
We firmly believe in our slogan: Experience Counts. And starting with the Australian team and CEO Danny Gladstone and the group around him, we all have many, many decades of gaming. They are focused on experience and the long game. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. So when the opportunity arose to bring Kelcey on board, I told him he really fit in quite well with our narrative. He has a great sense of experience, a great knowledge base. He’s very, very good with customers, with a lot of solid relationships, and our business is built on relationships. And generally speaking, we do look for people with experience at all levels.
Ainsworth hasn’t really emphasized branded and leased participation games in the past; is that an ongoing strategy, or is that something you’re reconsidering now?
We have dabbled, I’d say, in the branded stuff. We can do better at it, and we will do better at it. I think that you’re going to see a more conscious and directed effort towards improving our performance and library in that space. But that’s a super-competitive segment, and we’d better come with our A game. We will.
We’ve got some really interesting new premium titles coming out—things that I think will be seen as very compelling. We recognize that it’s not about all the glitz and glamour and the Hollywood sort of stuff. We have experiences where we get games out and they’re the workhorses. And in many cases, we see games staying on the floor for years and years.
Where does Ainsworth stand on the skill games issue?
We are moving forward. There are some pretty interesting titles that are going to come out that have skill features for us. I think there are still some regulatory items that need to be settled, in terms of the parameters of what you can and can’t do.
One of the challenges there is to make a skill game that is compelling but also can perform well on the floor. Any time you add a skill element, it takes time, and if you take time away, you’re reducing your spins per hour, so to speak. So, I think you have to kind of marry the skill experience with the gaming experience.
Novomatic recently purchased the majority of shares in Ainsworth. What does that bring to the table in terms of North America?
When the transaction closes within the next 12 months, we anticipate a lot of benefits of the two companies working together. There are many ways that we can help one another. If you look at the geographic map, obviously Novomatic is very, very strong in Europe, as well as Latin America. We of course have strength in Australia, and we’ve been getting stronger in North and Latin America. So it fits together pretty well, as two companies working together globally, and we anticipate a lot of benefits across games. But we are very excited that they’ve committed to keep Ainsworth as Ainsworth, moving forward.