Allie Evangelista began her life in the United States working as a hotel housekeeper.
Now, 19 years after first coming to the U.S. from her native Brazil, Evangelista is leading Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course. The facility at 655 N. Canfield-Niles Road has 1,100 slot machines, live horse racing, a staff of a few hundred, and brought in more than $115 million in slot-machine revenue last year, according to the Ohio Lottery Commission.
Evangelista took over as vice president/general manager of the racino last week. The move comes after Penn National Gaming – which operates Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Valley and several dozen other gaming facilities across the country – acquired Pinnacle Entertainment. Evangelista took over the job from former Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Valley GM Anthony “Tony” Frabbiele, who in turn took Evangelista’s former job as manager of the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Pennsylvania.
“The best way to bring two companies together is to make sure people are out of their comfort zone, that they’re learning about each other’s cultures,” Evangelista explained in a recent interview. “They’re calling this process a cross-pollination.”
Evangelista comes to the Valley with more than a dozen years of experience in the gaming industry.
She first came to the U.S. for a college internship at Walt Disney World, where she met her future husband. After completing college in Brazil, she moved to the U.S. to be with him. The couple lived in Orlando, Fla., for several years, where Evangelista worked as a housekeeper.
In 2006, she started her career in the gaming industry after accepting a job with Ameristar Casinos in Missouri. She worked there for nine years, learning the ins and outs of the gaming business and going back to school to get an MBA and a master’s degree in human- resource management.