Rivers Casino Portsmouth to Partner with Local, Minority-Owned Businesses

Posted on: September 4, 2020, 11:02h. 

Last updated on: September 4, 2020, 11:20h.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth developer Rush Street Gaming says it’s seeking minority-owned businesses to partner with on the Virginia gaming resort.

Rivers Portsmouth casino Virginia
A beheaded figure on a Confederate statue is lifted down in Portsmouth, Virginia, last month. The city’s casino developer says it’s committed to hiring minorities for its resort. (Image: AP)

Portsmouth is one of five cities in Virginia that qualifies to build a casino through the passage of a gaming bill signed by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) earlier this year. The bill is tailored towards assisting economically challenged cities.

Portsmouth awarded Chicago-based Rush Street with the privileges of building a casino destination in the Hampton Roads city. Should local voters pass a ballot referendum on November 3 — the final step in legally clearing the way for the casino — Rush Street says it will seek to partner with local minority-owned businesses and/or investors of color.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth will solicit minority participation for five percent of the equity contribution or $5 million, whichever is greater, from minority-owned businesses or private investors who are minorities and, as required by securities laws, are accredited investors,” a release explained.

The company adds that companies and investors that are based in Portsmouth will be given preference. “This will help ensure that the transformative economic impact of Rivers Casino Portsmouth starts and stays at home in Greater Portsmouth,” Rush added.

Casinos Fuel Minority Businesses

New casino projects across the US have been used to promote minority-owned businesses. In new gaming states — Massachusetts, for example — commercial gaming laws have required winning casino licensees to contract minority-owned companies during construction, and agree to hire a certain minimum number of minorities into their permanent workforces.

In Virginia, the five towns that qualified for a casino under Senate Bill 1126 — Portsmouth, Richmond, Norfolk, Bristol, and Danville — local development agreements have included stipulations that casinos bring in minority-owned investors and minority workers.

Rush Street Gaming will honor the Commonwealth’s and the City’s social objectives, including commitments to supporting minority and local businesses and maximizing their participation in the Project,” states an executive summary of the project.

Rush Street owns and operates four casinos: Rivers Des Plaines (IL), Rivers Schenectady (NY), and Rivers Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. Here’s a breakdown of their employee demographics:

  • Des Plaines: 45 percent women, 61 percent minority
  • Schenectady: 46 percent women, 42 percent minority
  • Pittsburgh: 39 percent women, 32 percent minority
  • Philadelphia: 42 percent women, 50 percent minority

Casino Scope

If Portsmouth residents sign off on the casino, Rush Street is ready to spend $300 million to build a casino resort that is expected to employ 1,300 people, with projected annual wages, tips, and benefits totaling $62 million.

Rush Street has agreed to pay $10 million to acquire the vacant land located at Victory and Cavalier boulevards just off I-264. The casino will come with slot machines, table games, and a sportsbook. The complex will feature a hotel, convention center, and entertainment space.

City planning officials project that the resort will generate $16.3 million in annual tax revenue for Portsmouth and more than $200 million annually in regional gross domestic product.

The Rivers Portsmouth casino would be on the hook for sharing between 18 percent to 30 percent of its gross gaming revenue with the city and state. The final rate depends on the property’s total win.