Kemspey-born Leonard Hastings Ainsworth, who started working life making and supplying dental equipment for his father, then created global gaming giant Aristocrat 70 years ago, marks his own milestone, turning 100 this month.
In 1953, the then 30-year-old turned his back on teeth and started manufacturing poker machines in his new Rosebery factory. While poker machines were still illegal in NSW, authorities allowed their use in RSL clubs.
Aristocrat expanded into the UK with Jack Brabham as Ainsworth’s first UK sales rep. Brabham resigned in 1959, the year he won his first Formula One title. That same year, Ainsworth made his first poker machine sales trip to the US. Aristocrat Leisure Industries has since become one of the world’s largest gaming companies.
In 1994, following a prostate cancer diagnosis, Ainsworth split his shareholding in the private company among his family and, in 1996, listed Aristocrat on the stock exchange. But following the all-clear on his health, Ainsworth then started a new company, Ainsworth Game Technology, in the late 1990s before selling it off to international gaming company Novomatic in 2016.
“I feel privileged to have reached this milestone and to have seen how the gaming industry has evolved and flourished over the years,” Ainsworth said of his 100th.
“I have been fortunate in establishing a worldwide reputation for quality equipment that continues to lead the field and that pleases me to no end.
“I have worked with many great people along the way, without them none of it would be possible.”
A passionate philanthropist, he established the Ainsworth Foundation which supports medical research, education and healthcare including various projects and buildings at the University of Western Sydney, the University of Sydney, the University of NSW, the Art Gallery of NSW and Sydney Children’s Hospital, in addition to other philanthropic gestures.
“Personally, I’m most proud that my good fortune enables me to support so many worthwhile causes,” he said.
Ainsworth Game Technology Chairman Danny Gladstone said he started his career in the gaming industry 50 years ago working under Ainsworth.
“It was a privilege to then have the opportunity to work with him again 16 years ago at Ainsworth and build on his legacy,” Gladstone said. “He is a true icon globally and our industry would not be what it is without him. I wish him all the very best on his 100th birthday.”
AGT already has dozens of messages on a message board set up for those who wish to send their congratulations to Len Ainsworth on reaching this significant milestone.