DOM 8 DE DEZEMBRO DE 2019 - 10:11hs.
Allie Evangelista, Penn National Gaming’s VP & General Manager

"To legalize gaming, Brazil could mimic the Nevada, Iowa, Ohio or Mississippi model"

Allie Evangelista left Caxias do Sul -state of Rio Grande do Sul- very young and started an upward career in the United States, which now has her as VP and General Manager at Hollywood Mahoning Valley Racino in Ohio, and working for Penn National Gaming, the largest regional casino operator in North America. In an exclusive interview with GMB, she comments on the legalization of gaming in Brazil and offers her knowledge and experience: 'If I can help this fascinating industry to be implemented in my country in a way that benefits everyone, I am in!'

GMB - You are Brazilian, and has been in US since you were very young… Tell us a little about your story.
Allie Evangelista - I'm gaúcha from Caxias do Sul, RS. I first came to the USA to complete a college internship at Walt Disney World in Orlando where I met my husband, Fabio Evangelista. After I graduated college with a bachelors degree in Tourism, I moved to Orlando where we lived for six years. I started my career as a hotel housekeeper on International Drive. I went back to school and got two masters degrees. I was transferred from one state to another several times to continue to learn and advance my career. Good work ethic and a positive attitude goes very far!

How did you relate to the gaming market?
During my years in hospitality I met many people and made many friends. I received an invitation to work in a casino in Missouri from a former manager I worked for in Orlando. I accepted the offer and we moved to Saint Louis MO in 2006 where we stayed for nine years and I learned all about the gaming industry, first in slots and later in table games. Later on we moved to Council Bluffs in Iowa as a Director of Casino Operations and Human Resources. After two years I was transferred to Washington PA and most recently Ohio.

Where do you currently work and what are your responsibilities?
Today I am the Vice President and General Manager of Hollywood Mahoning Valley in Austintown OH. I work for Penn National Gaming, the largest regional gaming company in North America. We have 42 locations and still growing. I am responsible for establishing and maintaining communication of property vision, values, goals and culture. It's important to promote a great work environment for team members to work and a fun atmosphere for guests to play and have fun. I also have to maintain a culture of regulatory compliance according to gaming regulations in each jurisdiction, in this case the Ohio Lottery Commission.

Do you follow closely what happens in Brazil with the legalization process of the activity? What is your opinion?
I read a great deal about what happens in the USA and in the World including Brazil. I know there are discussions and interest to implement legalized gaming in Brazil just like in many states in the USA and other countries. It's a very profitable industry not only for owners, operators but also for governamental entities. With clear regulatory controls the industry brings many benefits for everyone. It's very important to ensure the integrity of the gaming options offered with internal and external audits so that guests may enjoy gaming knowing it's well regulated as well as ensuring taxes are collected and spent properly at locations where gaming is established.

If you have to give 3 advice to local politicians who are debating the issue today, what would they be?
Gaming is already live and present everywhere. Regulating the activity is a win win for everyone. It's safer and provides benefits for everyone involved.

In the USA much of the gaming taxes is used to assist with education. Taxing the gaming establishments in a responsible and reasonable manner and ensuring the taxes are being used for the purposes they were established is essencial for the success of regulated gaming.

The USA have many states that can serve as a model for Brazil to implement regulated gaming successfully. States like Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, Mississippi and many others offer a profitable and healthy entertaining option for their residents. I suggest mirroring regulatory controls from these states to implement rules and audits that ensure the integrity of the industry.

There is much discussion in Brazil about legalizing casinos and not the whole gaming market (they call Sheldon Adelson Law). What do you think? Is for casinos not convenient to have other legalized activities?
I don't believe I am qualified to properly express my opinion regarding this topic. I live away from Brazil for many years and feel ignorant when it comes to politics in Brazil. My simple opinion is to regulate gaming as one industry such as casinos to ensure proper regulations and controlled activity and taxes. Casinos operate at a very high cost. Slots aren't cheap and labor should be properly compensated.

As a Brazilian, are you frecuently asked about what is happening in our country? How do the international market consider the Brazilian potential?
People are always curious to learn where I'm from and what it's like to live in Brazil. It's always a great conversation starter especially once they notice my accent. Brazil is seen as a beautiful country with warm and friendly people. I always hear people say how much they wish they could visit Brazil, it's always a positive discussion.

Would you like to return to the country at some point to develop the activity somewhere? Would you like to be called in to help with your experience?
I love Brazil. My family still lives in Brazil and I visit every chance I can. The USA is my home now. I've spent most of my adult life in the USA and have had opportunities most just dream of. Working with companies to support the launch of regulatory gaming in Brazil is certainly a consideration. If I can be of help to ensure this amazing industry is properly implemented and those who should benefit from it do so, I am all in!

Do you believe that many US casinos point to Brazil as a future market to expand?
I believe global companies operating casinos in the USA would have interest in expanding in Brazil. But not before ensuring regulations aren't compromised by corruption, money laundering and misused if tax money. This is always the main concern from international companies interested in entering the Brazilian market.

Sports betting has recently been legalized in the country. Do you see this as positive move? How do you think they should be regulated ... with limited or unlimited licenses?
Yes very much so. Just as I mean the legalization of gambling in Brazil, sports betting exists everywhere in the US, and it's just not regulated. With the new law states are introducing sports betting as a safe and fun option of entertainment. Taxes will generate funds that will be allow each state to complete projects that will benefit residents. Without legalizing it, sports betting exists without anyone benefiting from it.

I believe limiting the licenses to casinos and racinos is the safer approach. These establishments operate under string regulations and undergo ongoing audits. By introducing sports betting to an already successful industry ensures the same level of compliance and integrity already in place in slots, table games, racing and now sports betting.

Source: Exclusive GMB