Norfolk Casino Named HeadWaters, as Pamunkey Indian Tribe Unveils New Resort Details

Posted on: May 4, 2021, 10:54h. 

Last updated on: May 4, 2021, 11:20h.

The lone casino in Norfolk will be called HeadWaters Resort & Casino. Norfolk partnered with the Native American tribe and billionaire Jon Yarbrough to develop a casino.

Norfolk casino HeadWaters Pamunkey Indian Tribe
A rendering of the HeadWaters Resort & Casino in Norfolk, Va., is seen. The gaming complex developed by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe finally received a name this week. (Image: HeadWaters Resort & Casino)

That followed Virginia’s authorization of commercial gambling in five economically struggled cities last year, and a successful local ballot referendum.

“Headwaters,” the tribe says, represents the beginning of a river, and the term is also a nod to the importance “that rivers have played in the tribe’s and the city’s history.” Norfolk is a waterfront city in southeastern Virginia in the Hampton Roads area, where the James, Nansemond, and Elizabeth rivers intersect. 

HeadWaters is a $500 million development that is to be built on 13.4 acres of land next to the Harbor Park baseball stadium. The tribe, with financing from Yarbrough, acquired the land from the city for $10 million. 

Resort Details

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe last month debuted renderings for the then-unnamed casino. 

The resort is set to have more than 300 hotel rooms with panoramic views of the Elizabeth River. The property will come with a rooftop bar, infinity pool, spa, sports bar and grill, steakhouse, multipurpose event center, and outdoor space. 

An attached parking garage will accommodate 2,000 vehicles, and guests arriving via Amtrak will have easy access to the resort. The tribe is additionally building a marina on the river, which will allow boaters to dock and enjoy the resort and casino.

As for the casino space, HeadWaters has yet to disclose how many gaming positions — the number of slot machines and table game chairs — will be included. The casino will be accompanied by a sportsbook lounge. 

The casino is expected to generate more than 2,000 construction jobs and 2,480 permanent positions thereafter. 

Though the Pamunkey have no experience operating a casino, the tribe brought in a gaming industry veteran. In March, the tribe announced that it had hired Rodney Ferguson — the former CEO of the Potawatomi Casino in Wisconsin — to become its executive vice president of gaming and resort operations in Norfolk. 

Shoreline Commitment

Along with the casino name, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe said today that it will set aside $20 million to “shoreline resiliency issues.” The tribe is also committing “significant funds for additional Elizabeth River Trail construction, rehabilitation, and connectivity.”  

The release says the goal is to create “a vibrant, sustainable living shoreline that will improve the environment along the Elizabeth River, as well as providing an exciting new natural area for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

Commencement of construction on the half a billion-dollar undertaking remains on hold until the Virginia Lottery approves the tribe’s casino license application. Once that happens, construction will begin immediately. 

The resort is expected to be completed in 2023. Companies interested in providing goods and/or services for the project can register to be notified for requests for proposals at