License to Sell: Ainsworth’s Nevada Jackpot

A Herculean challenge awaits any company hoping to hit it big in Nevada’s gaming industry. With the more than $1 million price tag of attempting such a feat, the months upon months of probing investigations and the burden of having to prove the highest level of professional fitness, many gaming operators and suppliers only dream of having the time, money and credibility to obtain a Nevada gaming license.

Obviously, however, there is a select group that makes the grade. One such company that was recently fortunate enough to pass the grueling test that is Nevada licensure is Ainsworth Game Technology. And, like many companies before it, Ainsworth’s battle for licensing bliss was hard-fought—and came during the worst world economic conditions to boot.

It all began 18 months ago, right as the bear economy began growling throughout the world. “We began the process of obtaining a Nevada gaming license right as the economy was starting to tank,” noted Ainsworth CEO Danny Gladstone. Soon after, Lehman brothers collapsed, countless companies filed for bankruptcy, stock markets steadily dropped and unemployment rates soared. Skeptics might have advised the company to wait out the Great Recession before tackling such a consuming and economically draining challenge, yet Ainsworth forged ahead with the application process.

Assembling a highly skilled team of professionals, the company spent the next five-and-a-half quarters providing countless answers to countless questions posed by Nevada State Gaming Control Board investigators who were charged with the task of determining Ainsworth’s suitability to legally sell gaming equipment in the state.

Len Ainsworth
“The challenge for any Nevada gaming license applicant is the burden of providing answers to the many questions that investigators must necessarily ask,” Chairman and Company Founder Len Ainsworth said. “It’s also probably worth mentioning the point that an old established company, long experienced in the industry, needs to answer just as many questions as a newcomer.”

And Len is certainly no newcomer to gaming or the rigmarole of Nevada gaming licensing. At age 86, he is one of our industry’s living legends, having founded Aristocrat Technologies and credited as the first to introduce multi-line slot play. In fact, while working at Aristocrat, Len faced many of the same Nevada licensing challenges as he did this time around at Ainworth. “Len has been waiting for a Nevada gaming license for almost 25 years,” Gladstone added. “The whole industry has been wishing for this quite a while now.”

After Ainsworth went face-to-face with Nevada’s gaming regulators for months upon months, the light at the end of the tunnel finally became clearer this past November. “We met with the board on Nov. 4, and found out that we were nearly there,” Gladstone said. “The board asked us to clarify and expand on some of our compliance plans, which we gladly did.”

After spending the next few weeks perfecting its compliance plan, Ainsworth again appeared before the board. “Our final meeting with the board happened to be on the last day of this year’s G2E,” Gladstone said. “That morning we met with the board and commission and found out we had gained our license by a 5-0 vote. It was a great ending to a great G2E.”

With the challenges now behind them, the team at Ainsworth has been glowing about their hard-earned prize. “A Nevada gaming license means recognition of Ainsworth Game Technology as an ethical gaming company that Nevada casino owners can be comfortable to do business with,” Len beamed.

But it means more to him than just more business opportunities. “From a personal viewpoint it means acceptance of me and the company by the most stringent licensing authority anywhere in the world—Nevada sets the standard,” he explained.
It also means that the company can now get to work establishing infrastructure and selling its products in the gambling capital of the world. “We are very pleased with our accomplishment of course, but now we have to get to work,” Len noted.

According to Gladstone, the first order of business for the company is actually getting a physical copy of the license and then compiling a team and setting up a business infrastructure in Las Vegas. “We’re hoping to move some of our key people to Las Vegas in the very near future,” he said. “Also, depending on the state of our economy in the next few years, we’d also like to eventually build an infrastructure that can support not only Nevada sales but the rest of the U.S. as well.”

In the meantime, Ainsworth will be busy getting its products into the testing labs and developing new products for the Nevada marketplace. “We’ve got a lot of great products already, and I look forward to walking down Las Vegas Boulevard and shopping our products around,” Gladstone said. “But our plan is to submit a new platform for Nevada and get that approved first. Hopefully that happens at the same time we’ll be introducing it to the rest of the North American market.”

With its full suite of successful products behind Ainsworth, Nevada operators can expect even more exciting game content in the very new future. “We’ve recently tallied up the amount of experience between our top level executives,” Len said. “We have nearly 300 years of worldwide gaming industry experience, and we hope that with that much quality experience we will be able to offer something exciting and unique to Nevada operators and players.”

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