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Review ICE LONDON 2020


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acquisitive opportunities left in the UK.


"We definitively plan to stay in the UK business," underlined Mr. Mersich. "We will continue to invest and we remain excited about UK markets. We are also in the UK online space as a B2C operator and provider of content. We are more than a one-trick pony here in the UK, we have a great business that we are very proud of.”


On the regulatory front, there is lots of discussion on a new Gambling Act in the UK. It's a change that Mr. Mersich believes is inevitable: "We are very interested to see how it pans out," mulled Mr. Mersich. "I think it will have a significant impact on all the different sub-sectors in the UK gaming space. Tere is going to be change with a lot more emphasis on harm minimisation. We take this aspect very seriously and we are also G4 certified here in the UK. Tere is significant change on the horizon and it is incumbent on anyone in the gaming industry in the UK to take this very seriously and react accordingly."


Even after the sale last year, Novomatic Gaming UK continued to have revenues of approximately £200m, with the challenge for Mr. Mersich and his team to grow those revenues back to pre-sale figures over the next period. In terms of additional speed bumps, Mr. Mersich does not see Brexit as an obstruction in 2020 or beyond.


If anything, he explained that the company is massively ramping up the release schedule for games and cabinets for online and land-based, despite expected challenges to the importation of components. "While Brexit does add an air of uncertainty for any business right now, we don’t think it will be a major challenge for us," he concluded. "It is business as usual and I personally am very bullish about the future. I don’t think it’s anything to be afraid about."


P56 NEWSWIRE / INTERACTIVE / MARKET DATA


AINSWORTH REBUILD PROGRESSING


Lawrence Levy started officially in his new role as CEO Ainsworth in July 2019, but it was at ICE 2019 in which Lawrence chose to accept the role in discussion with Danny Gladstone and Harald Neumann. Tere has been quite a few changes since July, mainly looking in-depth at the game development and management structure of the Ainsworth business. In January, several significant changes stemming from Mr. Levy fully understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the business have been taken into effect.


Ainsworth has recruited ex-game development manager from Ainsworth, Scott Clarebrough, in Australia as a consultant for six months. Te gaming executive was widely seen as the brains behind many of Ainsworth’s most successful poker games in recent years and was a mentor to its design team. In the US, Ainsworth has also taken on board Steve Byrne, an ex-WMS and Caesars executive, who will also be consulting on game development. Mr. Byrne and Mr. Clarebrough are both consulting for Ainsworth on game development, ensuring that the company sets a clear strategy in terms of targeting games for individual markets, specifically focused upon identifying individual player groups. Mr. Levy also identified that the company needed to reemphasise the branding of Ainsworth products with additional significant changes still to be announced.


At ICE, Ainsworth showed its first new cabinets for several years, with the A-Star range, starting with a dual 27ins. version and a 43ins. curve version. Both cabinets have been in development for several years and are now in production following the international launch in London. Product wise, Mr. Levy unveiled a new line of products with a dedicated range for the US,


including its market-leading Historic Horse Racing products which Ainsworth developed in partnership Churchill Downs. "It’s a niche product that’s performing two to three times more strongly than competitors, alongside Class II products for the US, which alongside Class III and revenue- share products, Ainsworth is expanding in the US market," described Mr. Levy. "We have extremely high hopes for the US market in 2020."


"In Latin America, we have developed specific games for this market," continued Mr. Levy. "Our games historically perform very strongly across Latin America. While the Australian market has been challenging in the last 24 months, I think we understand what we have to do, where we have to go and the changes we must make. All of which is being implemented as of the start of this year." Ainsworth has also signed an external contract with a large India-based game development studio which will help with the production of clones and derivatives of games alongside translations and the final build of the game. Mr. Levy believes this is a positive move to propel an increased number of games to market in a more timely manner.


"In terms of our cooperation with NOVOMATIC - it is extremely positive as we continue to discuss the possibilities that working together brings to both parties," concluded Mr. Levy. "In my seven months in the seat we have made great progress in regards to content sharing, technology, online strategies, manufacturing and distribution, all of which is moving in a very positive direction. I think on both sides of the company we feel this is a very important way forward."


SPECTACULAR PRODUCT DISPLAY


"I am extremely proud in regards to the product range that we are offering to our customers


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