International edition
September 25, 2021

Drew Pawlak, AGS' Vice President and General Manager for Latin America

"Argentina is the first point of entry into AGS' South American planning strategy"

"In the long term, we will need to introduce more products, larger families, more cabinet designs," says Drew Pawlak, AGS' VP and GM for Latin America.
Argentina | 12/13/2019

Through its distribution partnership with Permaquim in Argentina, where the company showcased at the last edition of SAGSE, AGS is entering with its Icon cabinet. Pawlak tells Yogonet they'll be launching in their first locations later this month, and with more installations in three other trial locations in late January. He says despite some regulatory diferences between the provinces, they are not significant as in jurisdictions like the US and Australia.

W

hat were the highlights and main focus of your exhibition in Buenos Aires?

AGS is a US-based company with a large presence in Mexico. It's our first entrance into Latin American markets. And Argentina is the first point of entry into our South American planning strategy. It will be executed by Eduardo Alvarez, who's our Director of Latin American Sales. So we're entering with a very specific product plan in mind, we're entering into the bingo markets here in Buenos Aires, and then from there we'll bring our more premium products to enter into the casino markets. So the first product that we're starting with is ICON, which is an award-winning cabinet. It's a long time high performing cabinet currently in the Eilers survey, I think is third or fourth performing upright, with our leading content from the Da Ji Da Li family, inside Golden Wins, Jade Wins, Sapphire Wins. We'll be launching in our first locations later in December of this year, and with three more trial locations where it will be installed in late January as soon as the importation is ready.

What was the feedback from visitors at SAGSE, and the main topics they wanted to talk to you about?

Our partner down here is Permaquim, which is obviously a very well-established distributor of gaming products and financial insurance. Through their partnership with a company called Everi, they ended up with a slot product and took along Ricardo Regner, who's a former director at Bally, who's going to be leading our slot division. First I think they have two of the best products in the gaming industry globally right now between their other distributor partners and ourselves. More than excitement around AGS itself, we have award-winning products, we have a full line of table game products plus our online products. So we'll be introducing those all into the markets and the region, as we find it reasonable for everybody's comfort level in basics.

What further insights and strategies could you mention, in terms of standing out from competition in emerging markets like LatAm?

It's interesting. AGS is known for making gamblers games, that's what we do. So we make fantastic gamblers games, meaning the people that like to gamble, like to win, they like a lot of excitement through the rush of big wins, meaning high multiples over the bad levels, and with good quality products. Our speed reel is very very quick, our graphics are very tight, and so I think that the true gambler loves our products.

What kind of partnerships would you be after, especially operators?

We are new. So my whole goal is to get Icon machines in every bingo hall and every casino in Argentina. If I do that, I'm successful. In the long term obviously we will need to continue to treat the market as our other competitors have, who’ve been here for many years, by introducing more products, larger families, more cabinet designs. But in the US we experience between a 5% and a 7% ship share, so that represents only about 2% of the market in North America. So here we would like to see a similar ship share into several hundred cabinets.

What do you expect Latin America in general could represent for the company?

It’s just started, so I'm not expecting for Latin America to mimic the US at all. AGS is a 15-year old company, it's taken a long time to build to that level. So I think we're talking a few hundred a year to start.

How would you assess SAGSE’s format, was it useful for the company’s interests?

I've been coming to SAGSE since 2005. It has transformed a lot over the years, and I hope with a more stable economic environment in Argentina, as well as more clarifying importation rules, and things like that, we can see the growth of the show again. I was the Senior Vice President of Business Development for BMM Testlabs, so I came here all the time. This is a great show. It was a fantastic show. You would have six to eight small European suppliers trying to breakthrough in the market. And for the suppliers, shows are expensive, time-consuming, it's not just giving our bodies here, is getting equipment here, these stands, it's a lot.

How do you apply your experience with regulators when you negotiate with operators? How do you leverage that in a country like Argentina?

My previous experience with the regulatory environment gives a certain level of credibility in my knowledge of the workings of the industry itself. So when you work with smaller manufacturers who are not as competent as majors, they need a lot of assistance. This is how I tested, great, now what do I do? How do I commercialize the product? So that was a lot of skills that I've brought from my previous role, as the ability to help to actually get to markets. Buenos Aires is my favorite city of all Latin America, it's beautiful. It's too far to live, but If I had to live in Latin America I would live in Buenos Aires. The regulatory environment is fairly reasonable to deal with. They're all fairly straightforward about what they want. There are uniquenesses between the provinces, but it's not significant like when you're going into hugely diverse markets like, for instance, Australia and North America, which are hugely diverse. So I think there's so much growth in this region, with the opportunity to bring better products into the market, and we want to be part of that.

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