Majority stake in slot maker Ainsworth acquired by Austrian firm

Austrian-based gaming technology company Novomatic has acquired a majority stake in slot machine maker Ainsworth Game Technology, which is developing its North American headquarters in a complex under construction in southwest Las Vegas.

Ainsworth, which was founded by 92-year-old Australian billionaire Len Ainsworth, will become 53 percent owned by Novomatic when the transaction closes. Novomatic said Wednesday it would acquire 100 percent of Len Ainsworth’s stake in the company for $473 million in Australian dollars. The transaction is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

Novomatic manufactures slot machines and related gaming technology. The company has offices in 50 countries and operates more than 230,000 gaming devices. Novomatic said it will continue to list Ainsworth’s shares on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Based in Australia, Ainsworth Game Technology has become one of the faster-expanding midlevel slot machine operations. Last year, it spent $38 million to acquire a company that manufactures slot machines for the American Indian casino market, allowing the business to move beyond traditional casino markets.

Eilers Krejcik Gaming principal Todd Eilers said the transaction would help “significantly accelerate” Ainsworth’s North American expansion plans.

“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,” Eilers said.

The gaming equipment sector is dominated by International Game Technology and Scientific Games Corp. Both grew over the past 24 months through $15 billion in acquisitions. Analysts who follow the gaming equipment sector have been waiting to see how the midlevel companies, notably Aristocrat, Konami Gaming and Ainsworth, fill in the holes.

Ainsworth Game Technology’s new North American headquarters is a 291,000-square-foot building, under construction along the 215 Beltway near South Jones Boulevard.

Len Ainsworth is a slot machine industry pioneer who also founded Aristocrat Technologies in 1953.

The company said this week it plans to make its initial push into the Indian gaming when it displays more than 50 slot machine titles at the Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention March 13-16 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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