Pawlak: “After Mexico and Argentina, Peru and Chile are the next LatAm markets we are focusing on”

A very experienced and highly qualified executive, Drew Pawlak, VP, Latin America, and GM, Mexico, at AGS, details on the company’s business in US, LatAm and Europe, talks about the ‘incredible’ inner corporate culture and informs of the successful convergence of their land-based titles to the online sector.

Drew Pawlak is the Vice President for Latin America and General Manager of Mexico at AGS.
Drew Pawlak is the Vice President for Latin America and General Manager of Mexico at AGS.

What was the performance of the company’s products in LatAm in 2019, specifically in Mexico, where -following the Q3 2019 financial report- units’ sales grew and helped increase international gaming operations revenue?
Both 2018 and 2019 were strong years for our Mexico business. Over the past two years, we have added more than 900 recurring revenue units in Mexico (as of September 30th, 2019 vs. December 31st, 2017), driven primarily by the performance of our ICON and Orion Portrait cabinets and expansion into new markets and casino properties. In 2019, we launched our Orion Slant cabinet into the Mexican market, and we also showed our games for the first time at SAGSE Buenos Aires 2019, where we experienced strong interest among Latin America operators.

In 2019, AGS made its first partnership with an online operator outside Europe, providing its real-money game content to Ainsworth’s online casino, Mustang Money Mexico. Almost a year after, what’s your analysis on the results of the introduction of your online titles in that market?
Yes, we launched our real money online games on the Mustang Money Mexico casino in May 2019 and we currently have Golden Wins, Jade Wins, and Longhorn Jackpots available to play. Latin America is obviously a very important market to us, and we were delighted that Mexico was our first entry after successfully launching in Europe only a few months earlier. We have been happy with the results; not only Mustang Money, but as of December 2019, we are live on Caliente with eight games. Being able to port our highly successful land-based titles to the online sector is a major plus and is an area we want to capitalize on as the convergence of players moves from brick-and-mortar to desktop/mobile and vice versa.

How are you planning to expand the installation of your ICON machines within Argentinian operators?
Our focus for Latin America is to sell both our classic ICON games as well as our new Orion family of cabinets, which includes the Orion Portrait, the Orion Slant, and the Orion Upright. The first AGS games went live in Argentina in November 2019, and Peru and Chile are the next markets we are focusing on for Latin America, with plans to install our first games in the second half of 2020. We sell directly and work with distributors to place our products in that region.

AGS has recently been recognized as ‘One of the Best Places to Work in 2020’. In your daily activities, how do you share your experience, ideas and strategies with your team to help collaborators achieve their goals?
We have an incredible company culture at AGS, which is why we won’s Employees’ Choice Award for ‘Best Places to Work in 2020,’ based on confidential and unsolicited reviews from our employees. We’re proud of our company culture and we want to keep AGS a great place to work, so we think about our culture every day. For me, it all starts with a focus on our AGS Playbook, which is a set of 10 core values that we promise to always keep top of mind in all that we do. These values include: Aspire to Win; Us, We & Our; Love the Game; Act Like a CEO; Keep It Real; Embrace Change; Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say, Don’t Say It Mean; Make Your Mom Proud; Spirit of Service; and Let Your Inner Geek Shine. As I work with my team, I make sure that we all stay centered on what matters most: taking care of our customers and providing outstanding service. I also like to share my passion for AGS and for our products because I feel it is important that everyone sees how engaged I am; passion is definitely contagious. And I make sure that, although we work hard, we always have a bit of fun.

How is your company positioned in Europe and what are your expectations for next ICE London show?
We have two European offices: one in Isle of Man and one in Tel Aviv (Editor’s Note: considering Israel as part of European business), and we also have several employees who are based in the United Kingdom. Everyone on our AGS Europe team is focused on our AGS Interactive business, which offers solutions for real money gaming in regulated, online jurisdictions, as well as social gaming solutions. Through our AxSys Games Marketplace remote gaming server, we deliver a robust library of online real money games to many of the world’s largest online operators. Our games are internally developed casino AGS games that we’ve moved into the digital space after their success in land-based markets. We also have partnered with industry-leading third-party game developers to ensure we are able to offer the most entertaining player experience. Our proven in-house studios, alongside our creative and experienced suppliers, enable AGS to deliver a broad range of game content. Regarding our slot business and the European market, we are currently focused on growing our business in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, but we continue to explore opportunities to enter land-based markets in Europe. We are very deliberate and strategic when it comes to entering new markets, but we maintain a watchful eye on Europe and will continue to review all opportunities. Although we don’t have a stand at ICE this year, our team will be present at the show to meet with online operators and game studios, with a focus on growing our real money gaming business. We’re always excited about being at ICE. The energy of the show is contagious, and there are so many opportunities to meet with our customers and partners from around the world.

What kind of business challenges will your company have to overcome in 2020 in LatAm markets, taken into account last year’s political and social turmoil in different countries of the region?
As I mentioned earlier, we are taking a very strategic and measured approach to our expansion into Latin America, starting with Argentina and then followed by Chile and Peru. We think our games will resonate with players in Latin America and that the region presents exciting opportunities, but we are watching the economic and political developments carefully and have the flexibility to adjust our strategies if necessary.