Ed Evans is someone to keep an eye on this year. That’s according to Global Gaming Business, which included Evans in its annual 25 People to Watch for 2024 list.
As director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Cordish Gaming Group, which owns Live! Casino and Hotel in Maryland, Evans is able to reach out to the community in ways that don’t always involve gaming, he told GGB.
“The evolution of my career with The Cordish Companies and the Live! brand has led me to this role, where I have a real opportunity to ensure our team reflects the communities where we operate, and our team members can bring their full authentic selves to work every time they walk through our doors.”
Evans’ passion goes well beyond gaming
There are six commercial casinos in Maryland, including Live! Casino and Hotel. As of yet, Maryland online casinos remain illegal, although there is legislation on the table for 2024. Retail casinos are the only place to play casino games in Maryland.
And without a doubt, Live! has been one of the most popular casinos in the state. Its revenue ranks in the top two spots virtually every month. Part of Live!’s success has been its community outreach, and Evans has been instrumental in that.
Evans was pivotal in one project that will have a lasting impact in Maryland. Live! and Cordish Gaming contributed $12 million to help complete the Severn Center project in Maryland, which had been in flux for the better part of 30 years. Now, the Severn Center features a best-in-class Boys & Girls Club, a full gymnasium and a teen club.
Since being opened, the center has added a senior activity center to go along with classes on art, history, crafts, computer use, dance and physical fitness.
Representing Cordish, Evans also handed out 400 turkeys before Thanksgiving to people in need.
Evans values interactions with community
According to Evans, there is no aspect of his job more rewarding.
“When you see the impact of what we do, when you see people hug you with tears and thank you with compassion and emotion, you can’t put a price on that. There is no spreadsheet for this. We live by the right motto of being responsible corporate neighbors wherever Cordish plants its flag.
“When I was younger, I never thought in a million years that a casino company would have this type of community impact to help people who might not ever become gamblers. I am thrilled with the difference we make.”
According to Global Gaming Business, Evans’ responsibilities are plentiful.
“Evans will lead the development and implementation of proactive diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives to drive Cordish Gaming Group’s strategic plan to create a learning and work environment where everyone can succeed. He will develop and promote programs that involve team members at all levels to further behaviors, attitudes and policies that support diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Evans will also serve as the lead representative for external community relations, working with local and regional stakeholders in all markets to promote Cordish Gaming Group’s DEI mission.”
Evans grew up in Baltimore in a single-mother household
Evans is originally from Baltimore and was raised by a single mother while struggling to make ends meet. He ended up finding his way out of a less-than-ideal childhood through food. Before his current position with Cordish Gaming, Evans was the director of culinary operations for Live! Casino and Hotel in 2015. Using that platform, Evans created a culinary academy to provide a safe space for people to come off the streets and to learn how to cook, even if they could not afford it.
Once he realized the impact he could make, Evans dove in head-first into community outreach. His goals now go well beyond food and gaming.
“The evolution of my career with The Cordish Companies and the Live! brand has led me to this role, where I have a real opportunity to ensure our team reflects the communities where we operate and our team members can bring their full authentic selves to work every time they walk through our doors.”
Evans’ work has helped Live! grow into one of the premier Maryland casinos
Evans’ work has helped push Live! Casino into the top two casinos in the state alongside MGM National Harbor.
Both casinos are also considered to be two of the top five casinos in the country outside of Nevada, according to the American Gaming Association.
Live! generated $58 million of adjusted gross revenue in November. Its 3,850 slot machines made $40.9 million, while the remaining $17.1 million came from its 179 table games. Revenue in November was 1.6% higher year over year and a quarter of a million dollars better than the month prior.
In the first 11 months of 2023, Live! Casino generated just under $650 million of revenue. That helped Maryland reap $272.7 million in tax dollars.
Live! recently won the top award in Strictly Slots Best of Slots Awards for Maryland. It also won the top spot for Best Overall Casino and Best Customer Service.
Global Gaming Business Magazine’s annual list is comprised of accomplished gaming figures all across the industry. Each person is chosen by the magazine’s editorial advisory board.