Step into the thrilling world of Anamarie Ellis ’16, whose journey with Ellis Island Casino, Hotel & Brewery began at the age of 14 and has now propelled her to the position of Vice President of Operations.
In November, Ellis had the unique opportunity to see not only the Las Vegas Strip transform during the FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN SILVER LAS VEGAS GRAND PRIX 2023, but her family’s property, too, into the epicenter of activity of Turn 4 and the Koval straightaway. Ellis Island Casino, Hotel & Brewery hosted events on its property with grandstand seats and viewing parties in The Front Yard, which had perfect views of the track on an elevated platform. Turn 4 at Ellis Island became a prime location for gathering, viewing and enjoying the festivities taking place in Las Vegas over the three days of the race, and Ellis was happy to offer this experience.
Reflecting on the sold-out event, Ellis shared “I’m most grateful to have been a part of this experience with my family. Executing this event took a lot of collaboration and I’m so proud of what we accomplished together. We are the only family-run casino on the race circuit, and one of the few properties who put on an event on their own. All the activations, marketing, ticket sales and event operations were all carried out by our team. We all learned together and worked through each obstacle. It took many hands to make it possible, and I could not be prouder of how our team came together to make it happen!”
Ellis Island Casino, Hotel & Brewery has been in the Ellis family since 1968. The property now boasts a boutique hotel, a casino with slots and live games, and four eateries including The Front Yard, a beer garden which showcases their own brewed beer.
While hearing about Ellis’ Formula 1 experience, she also shared her experience at Chapman as a business administration major with emphases in management and entrepreneurship and a minor in psychology. Read more about her experience and career journey below.
Q&A with Anamarie Ellis ‘16
Q: Give a brief overview of your career journey.
I first started working at my family’s small business, Ellis Island Casino, Hotel & Brewery, at the age of 14 in one of our restaurants. I always had an interest in growing in the business, and I’m grateful to have worked in many different departments during summer breaks throughout high school and college, from accounting to the front desk to marketing.
After graduating from Chapman, I moved back home and started working in Human Resources. From there, I moved to operations and started working as a Casino Host, then later as our Director of Player Development, where I oversaw our VIP loyalty and casino marketing programs.
I am now the Vice President of Operations at Ellis Island Casino, Hotel & Brewery. I oversee Slots, Table Games, and Hotel Operations as well as Casino Marketing and Player Development. I also work with a sister company of ours, Marker Trax, which is our cashless casino credit technology startup.
Q: How did Chapman prepare you for life and your career? Any skills or lessons that have stuck with you?
Chapman gave me an amazing college and life experience. My business classes, professors, and the connections that I made were so impactful, and I, of course, loved living in beautiful Orange County. I look back on my time at Chapman often, and I could not have asked for a better experience socially with the extracurriculars that were offered and lifelong friends I met and academically with the niche business classes and electives I took. A lesson I learned is to always take advantage of opportunities that initially feel like a reach!
Q: Do you have a favorite Chapman memory?
My favorite memory at Chapman was being in the Entrepreneurship Incubator Labs, working with a few different start-up companies for internships and classes. It was a really unique experience, and I loved having the community of other classmates in the program. I was able to learn so much from them. I went on the Spring Break trip to Silicon Valley with Dr. Steinmark, where we were able to meet with different VC firms and learn about raising capital. I also loved the summer internship I did in Dublin with the Maldron Hotel to fulfill my international business credit. It was an amazing experience!
Q: Who was the most influential person for you at Chapman, and why?
The most influential person for me at Chapman was Raphael Tecucianu, the president of the business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi my freshman year. He later became my “big” after rushing, and one of my greatest friends. He paved a way for me not only through the business school, but pushed me to get involved in the fraternity as Secretary and VP of Membership. This carried over to what I now do in organizations I’m a part of post-college and outside of work. I have a leadership role on the Membership Committee for Global Gaming Women, a non-profit that provides professional and personal development for women professionals in the gaming community. I am also an active member of Nevada Women’s Philanthropy on the Grant Screening Committee.
Q: What advice/encouragement can you share with students or recent graduates who are looking to go into the same field?
I’m most grateful for the time I initially spent in entry-level positions to really learn the guest experience and the technology that is used to operate a casino and hotel. It was a critical piece for me to know how to problem solve when I later went into management and executive roles. I also would say to not be afraid to ask a lot of questions and be observant! Working for a smaller property usually allows you to be a part of a lot of different projects across departments, which can be a great experience to learn from quickly. Also, to find networking or social groups that may be available outside of the workplace. I really appreciate having mentors and a community within the same industry.