2018 has already got off to a fast start in terms of deals and mergers in the gaming industry, with the completion of GVC’s takeover of Ladbrokes Coral and Blueprint Gaming’s buyout of Games Warehouse. However, only a couple of weeks into the new year, we have witnessed what could well be the biggest deal of the entire year, as Novomatic has completed its takeover of Ainsworth Gaming.
Fans of land based gaming in particular will be intrigued by this deal, as while both Novomatic and Ainsworth boast notable online presences, it is fair to say that their primary focus has remained on supplying cutting edge gaming equipment and cabinets to bricks and mortar casinos around the world. The supply chain for these establishments has clearly got simpler, while Novomatic’s presence around the globe has increased noticeably with the takeover.
The deal has been in the works for a while, with its international nature clearly playing a part. With both companies already demonstrating significant importance around the globe, the final deal had to be approved by regulators in Europe, Nevada and Ainsworth’s native Australia.
While Novomatic has acquired a 52% controlling stake in the company, it is not expected to change anything about Ainsworth’s offerings to a major extent. Existing games are likely to continue on as they are already, and the brand is set to continue supplying its own partner casinos on the same basis as before.
However, one major result of the takeover is the departure of Len Ainsworth, founder and director of the Australian slots provider. He is set to stay on for the rest of the year to assist with the switch in ownership, before leaving the business altogether. Given that Ainsworth’s last job departure saw him leaving Aristocrat to form Ainsworth Gaming, we are not entirely sure that this will be the last that we see of him in the gaming industry, however!
Speaking on the deal, Novomatic Chairman Harald Neumann said: “The compliance investigations carried out as part of this registration were extremely thorough. They included all corporate divisions of Novomatic AG.
“Our shares in Ainsworth are strategically very important for Novomatic. After all, the joint plan is to increase market share in the US to about 10% over the next five years. In the long term, Novomatic may become the world market leader in the area of gaming.”
The deal certainly makes sense in that regard, especially with the likes of Scientific Gaming making moves to be the biggest gaming company around. It seems that the main competitors are looking to get bigger through acquisitions as much as anything else, and a combination of the strengths of Novomatic and Ainsworth may well represent the best chance of expanding in the ever-valuable US market. How the new ownership setup affects the overall approach of the two companies remains to be seen, but we hope to see a positive impact not only for land based players, but in the online and mobile sectors too.