Rivers Casino Portsmouth is officially open. The venue is the first permanent standalone casino to ever open in Virginia, which was ratified to the United States 235 years ago in June 1788.
Rivers Portsmouth held a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning with remarks from Roy Corby, the casino’s general manager, Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover, Rush Street Gaming CEO Tim Drehkoff, and Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kelly Gee. The Hampton Roads casino opened to the general public shortly after 10 am EST with slot machines, table games, and sports betting.
Hundreds are lined up, anxiously awaiting the grand opening of Rivers Casino Portsmouth.
— Alex Littlehales 13News Now (@AlexLittlehales) January 23, 2023
Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming built Virginia’s first permanent casino at a cost of $340 million. Rivers Portsmouth is adjacent to Tidewater Community College just south of Interstate 264 between Missy Elliott Blvd. and Victory Blvd.
We’re here to serve the community, our guests, and our team members,” said Corby. “We’ll accomplish that mission by creating a stellar guest experience and becoming the entertainment destination of choice for Portsmouth, Hampton Roads, and visitors to our area.”
The casino is open to guests aged 21 and over. The gaming floor, which occupies about 90,000 square feet of the 400,000-square-foot complex, debuted with 1,448 slots, 57 table games, 24 poker tables, and a BetRivers Sportsbook.
Smoking is permitted on the main casino floor but is prohibited elsewhere throughout the property. The sportsbook, restaurants, poker room, music venue, and events center are entirely smoke-free.
Virginia’s 2009 Indoor Clean Air Act allows state-licensed gaming venues to permit smoking. The legislative carveout was made when Virginia had no casinos but wanted to let horse racetracks and off-track betting facilities continue indoor tobacco use.
Will Gamble Pay Off?
Virginia lawmakers in 2020 sought to provide an economic spark to five struggling cities with casinos. The gaming bill allowed Portsmouth, Norfolk, Bristol, Danville, and Richmond to ask their residents if they would support a commercial casino development in order to create new local jobs, tax revenue, and overall economic activity.
Portsmouth voters answered a resounding “yes.” During the city’s November 2020 local referendum asking citizens if they support the Rivers gaming project, nearly 67% lent their backing.
Rush Street at the time promised the community that the casino company would become Portsmouth’s premier economic development partner. The casino operator, which also runs casinos in Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania, hopes to improve living conditions in the city through more jobs, higher wages, and increased tax revenue.
Rush forecasts that its casino will result in $16 million in new annual tax revenue for Portsmouth. The casino’s annual payroll is projected to be north of $62 million. Rivers Portsmouth opened with a staff of about 1,300 team members.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth does not feature a hotel, spa, retail shopping, swimming pool, or many other typical resort amenities.
Unlike the three other casinos in development in Norfolk, Bristol, and Danville, Rush opted to forgo the resort aspect in favor of opening a casino with a handful of dining options. But Rivers Portsmouth does offer some nongaming entertainment.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth features a Topgolf Swing Suite overlooking the casino floor. The property is also home to The Sound Bar, an intimate stage and lounge area, plus a 25,000-square-foot events center.
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