Rivers Casino Portsmouth Announces Groundbreaking on $300M Virginia Resort

Posted on: November 27, 2021, 12:59h. 

Last updated on: November 27, 2021, 05:49h.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth plans to hold a ceremonial groundbreaking on Tuesday, December 7.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth Rush Street Virginia
A rendering of Rivers Casino Portsmouth in Virginia. Developer Rush Street Gaming will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking next week with local city officials. (Image: Rush Street Gaming)

Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover confirmed the groundbreaking event, but did not provide any details on what the ceremony might entail. What we do know is that Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming has $300 million set aside to build the Rivers Casino on 57 acres of land. That parcel is located just south of Interstate 264 between McClean Street and Victory Boulevard.

The project site is roughly three air miles southwest of downtown Portsmouth. The casino resort will be located adjacent to Tidewater Community College’s Portsmouth campus.

Portsmouth was one of four cities in Virginia that approved the development of a single casino through local ballot referendums during the 2020 presidential election. Casinos are also being built in Norfolk, Danville, and Bristol.

In Portsmouth, residents easily passed their gaming referendum, as approximately 67 percent of voters answered “Yes” to the casino proposition.

Richmond was the fifth and only other city that qualified to ask residents if they wished to authorize casino gambling. . But voters in the Virginia capital rejected the proposed $565 million casino pitch earlier this month. A little more than 51 percent voted against the project from Urban One and Peninsula Pacific Entertainment.

Work Already Underway

Though Portsmouth and Rush Street will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking on the construction of the casino next month, site planning commenced back in early August. Crews have been on the property clearing vegetation and other groundbreaking impediments on a near daily basis.

It’s been sort of setting the stage,” said Justin Ballard of S.B. Ballard Construction Company to 13 News Now. Ballard’s Virginia-based construction firm is one of the major contractors hired by Rush Street.

The Virginia Lottery, which is tasked with overseeing the licensing, building, and future gaming operations of the state’s four land-based commercial casinos, signed off on the Rivers Portsmouth plan in January.

Along with the expected 1,400 construction workers Rush Street claims will be needed to construct Rivers, the gaming operator plans to hire 1,300 full-time workers to run the resort once it’s completed.

Richmond Defeat Win for Portsmouth

The Portsmouth casino resort is projected to generate $16 million annually in local tax revenue for the city. The complex is forecast to additionally inject more than $200 million into the local Portsmouth and Hampton roads economy each year.

Richmond rejecting its casino is likely a positive outcome for Rivers Portsmouth, as well as the casino undertaking in nearby Norfolk. Local officials in Norfolk have partnered with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe and billionaire gaming industry veteran Jon Yarbrough to build a $500 million casino resort. Ir will be located on the Elizabeth River next to the city’s Harbor Park minor league baseball stadium.

Norfolk’s HeadWaters Resort & Casino and Portsmouth’s Rivers will benefit from not having a casino in Richmond, which is only some 70 miles northwest of the Hampton Roads cities.

“The proposed casino in Richmond would have essentially blocked traffic from Richmond and northern Virginia from coming down to the casinos in Norfolk and Portsmouth,” said Bob McNab, an economics professor at Old Dominion University.