It has been a busy period of late for Las Vegas headquartered AGS, with a number of launches, link-ups and licence agreements, seeing the firm well set as it eyes yet further growth.
GVC and PokerStars are two such entity’s to utilise the firms provisions, whilst a partnership with its home town NHL franchise the Vegas Golden Knights has been hailed as “monumental” with entry into Pennsylvania opening up more opportunities further still.
David Lopez, president and CEO of AGS, has been speaking to CasinoBeats addressing all these issues, as well as casting glances further afield at markets which could yield more promise.
“AGS is unique in that we still have so many opportunities to expand our business”
CasinoBeats: A number of new developments have been detailed in recent times, including entry into Pennsylvania, how key was that for the expansion strategies of AGS?
David Lopez: Receiving our Pennsylvania license for not only slot machines, but table games, was a huge milestone for AGS. Pennsylvania has 12 casinos, and this gives us the ability to market our high-performing games and table products to those gaming operators.
AGS is unique in that we still have so many opportunities to expand our business and our customer base into established gaming jurisdictions where we are not yet licensed, or we have just been recently licensed, two examples of which are Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Our overall market share in North America is less than half of our recent ship share numbers, which indicate that AGS is still considerably under-penetrated. The whitespace opportunity for AGS across North America is significant.
CB: What benefits are to be brought from gaining those two licenses within the state, and subsequently being able to supply its 12 casinos?
DL: Pennsylvania’s casinos are primarily repeat-player markets, which is definitely AGS’ forte. Our games tend to offer higher volatility, meaning they deliver the chance for bigger and more frequent payouts, and an experience that keeps players entertained and in their seats, anticipating a big win.
In a locals’ market like most of Pennsylvania, where you have players visiting their favourite casino three times a week, for example, players tend to seek these types of experiences.
“Our multi-year partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights has generated tremendous excitement”
Pennsylvania is also a big table game market; 2017 marked the seventh straight year that table game revenues in Pennsylvania increased. We have a large portfolio of proprietary table games that also deliver a more volatile experience, including blackjack, poker, baccarat, and craps variants.
Our table game progressives and side bets have also proven to perform on the East Coast, and we expect our products like STAX, Bonus Spin, and our new Bonus Spin Xtreme to do really well in Pennsylvania.
CB: Another recent key manoeuvre saw an alignment made with Vegas Golden Knights, how important was it to form a link-up with the home-town franchise?
DL: Our multi-year partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights has generated tremendous excitement with our employees, and many of our customers. The team had a magical inaugural season, and truly captured the heart and soul of the Las Vegas community. We’re leveraging the partnership in several different ways.
We sponsor the Play of the Game, which gives us great exposure at every home game on the jumbotron as our vibrant AGS play button pops up, followed by the replay of the key moment from that game. We are placing Vegas Golden Knights-branded roulette signage in casinos around Las Vegas. Players love the way we’ve animated the Knights’ helmet to run around the roulette wheel as the wheel spins.
And at G2E, we showcased a promotional Vegas Golden Knights-themed Big Red spinning-reel game; we’re exploring opportunities to commercialise it through partnership with the National Hockey League.
From an employee standpoint, we are able to send nearly 90 percent of our Las Vegas employee base to a Golden Knights game, along with hosting other events at T-Mobile Arena and their City National Arena practice facility.
And to support our commitment to the Las Vegas community, we’ll work with the Golden Knights to bring the excitement of hockey to an underprivileged school that we’ve adopted.
“We feel a true kinship with the Golden Knights”
AGS is the first gaming equipment manufacturer to partner with the Vegas Golden Knights, and for us, it just made good business sense. We feel a true kinship with the Golden Knights; like the team, we are relatively new players in the gaming supplier space; we have been underestimated; both AGS and the Knights formed strong teams, came together quickly under a set of unique core values; and have never lost sight that winning is about a great culture, cohesive team, and strong character.
CB: How do you leverage your brand presence at sporting events etc via this partnership, into engaging interest in AGS?
DL: Although our global corporate headquarters are in Las Vegas, we are still developing our brand presence in the Las Vegas community. So with our sponsorship of the Play of the Game and our increasing market share in Nevada, we are increasing our brand exposure in the Las Vegas Valley and forming stronger relationships with the commercial Las Vegas-based operators, many of whom are also Vegas Golden Knights sponsors and supporters, including MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Station Casinos, and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, to name a few.
The exposure we get with these operators is notable as we expand our presence from being a primarily Class II supplier to a much larger, global supplier to commercial and tribal casinos. We also welcome the opportunities to bring our customers to the Vegas Golden Knights games; it’s a great way to engage and develop an even stronger relationship in a laid-back social setting.
“Canada offers great potential for AGS”
CB: Looking further ahead, what markets, both in the US and beyond, are you particularly targeting?
DL: As I mentioned earlier, we have significant white-space opportunities. Canada offers great potential for AGS. We are making good headway in Alberta, where we had a successful field trial and are now installing our games throughout the province.
The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) recently pre-qualified us to place product into their jurisdiction, so it won’t be long until we have games throughout that region. Our ship share in the second quarter was 7 percent, and we led the industry in win-per-day for casino-owned games, so that combination of performance and increased penetration opens up even more opportunities in established, ramping, and early-entry markets.
Outside of North America, we’re excited about continued growth in Mexico, where we just launched our ICON and Orion platforms. And we have a video bingo cabinet, Alora, with a library of video bingo games, that we designed specifically for the Philippines, Mexico, and Brazil markets.
There’s been a lot of excitement and customer interest in that product since G2E and we feel confident it will deliver an exceptional player experience. It’s got an illuminated foot pedal with play action that is unique, giving players a hands-free experience.