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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 4, April 2010, Posted On: 3/24/2010

American Gaming Systems Assembles Team For Illinois VLTs

Nick Montano
American Gaming Systems, AGS, Encore System, coin-op machines, slot machines, video lottery terminals, VLT, video gaming terminals, VGT, amusement machine operator, amusement vendors, Illinois VLT, Illinois gaming, Illinois Gaming Act, Ryan Cravens, Todd Cravens, Alpine Investors, Native American casinos

ITASCA, IL -- AGS LLC (American Gaming Systems), a maker of class II and III gaming equipment and technology, is building a marketing and sales team for the planned video gaming market in Illinois. The AGS team will consist of experienced sales personnel who share backgrounds in coin-op, gaming and hospitality.

In February, Ryan Cravens joined AGS's marketing team. Cravens comes to AGS from Play Mechanix, where he was involved in promotions for the CoinUp network. Play Mechanix, which is now part of Raw Thrills, is the maker of Big Buck Hunter videogames. Prior to Play Mechanix, Cravens served with Betson Enterprises.

In March, AGS recruited several new sales representatives to work with VLT operators in Illinois. Joe Bernardi and Teresa Leschkies are among the new hires. Also joining the company is Conor Lucas, who has a background in local and state government affairs, as well as financing.

In Illinois, AGS will market its Encore System, which, according to the company, gives operators greater control over VLTs by allowing them to swap out tiles on the fly. It's also positioning itself has an expert in licensing and financing, which AGS regards as critical in the emerging operator-run gaming market in Illinois.

Earlier this year, Todd Cravens, former general manager of Betson Midwest and Ryan Cravens' brother, joined Alpine Investors, a nine-year-old private equity firm that owns American Gaming Systems. Alpine, which specializes in funding and acquiring midsize businesses with revenue between $2 million and $20 million, says it has $247 million under management. Graham Weaver founded the San Francisco-based firm in 2001.

YLighting, Furniture Factory Outlet, Interprint, NAC Marketing, WebEquity Solutions, McKissock and Great Falls Marketing are among Alpine's concerns. Multivend LLC, which makes and sells Vendstar bulk vending machines for the business opportunity market, is another one of its companies.

Founded 10 years ago, AGS has offices in Simpsonville, SC, Canoga Park, CA, Oklahoma City and Toronto. It says it operates more than 10,000 games worldwide. Its class II platform is widely used in Native American casinos. The company is expanding into class III products, as well as wide-area progressive and casino management systems.

"In Illinois we are taking what we have learned in the Native American gaming markets by tailoring our games for the 'local's market,'" Ryan Cravens told VT. "Our games are made for folks that keep coming back to the location a few times a week, versus someone that visits a resort town once a year."

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