Is 3 a crowd? Casino consultants say ‘yes,’ but believe one in Hampton could be viable

Hampton

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — It wouldn’t be ideal, but three casinos could survive in Hampton Roads, according to a pair of casino consultants.

That was the key finding of “The Innovation Group,” revealed by Hampton City Council at their meeting Wednesday night.

Mayor Donnie Tuck told 10 On Your Side in October that “the Peninsula” wanted in on the gaming action the state was considering. In December, the city hired the group that worked on the statewide study.

“We wanted to know the viability of the market,” said Charles Rigney, director of Hampton Economic Development.

The consultants found that if Portsmouth and Norfolk both develop casinos, one in Hampton still could make an estimated $118.8 million per year in gaming revenues. The city could see a total $7.4 million each year in tax benefit.

However, if only Portsmouth developed a casino, Hampton would see an estimated $8.8 million in annual in tax benefit.

“The region could support no more than three casinos but ideally there would be only two,” said Michael Soll, president of The Innovation Group. “The stress of having three in the area and the reason we don’t people actually think it will occur … is because you not only dilute the impacts [of a casino], you dilute the capital risk that developers are willing to take.”

Hampton has already been approached by developers interested in building a casino on land adjacent to the Hampton Coliseum and the convention center, according to the mayor.

“I would say that one potential site being the Coliseum at the crossroads site is about as good as it gets in terms of existing amenities and infrastructure and regional significance,” Soll said.

Hampton is currently host to the closest thing to a casino in the region. Rosie’s Gaming Emporium was also factored into the report. Soll said because of the different gaming experience it provides, it could also survive.

The one large roadblock is that Hampton can’t legally open a casino and has no current pathway to do so.

Included in Hampton City Council’s 2020 Legislative Packet is a request for the city to be added to casino legislation currently being considered by the General Assembly. As it stands, only the cities of Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Richmond would be allowed to host casino gaming if the bill passes and then is subsequently approved by voters in each individual city.

“There is a long way to go, we don’t know yet.” Rigney said.

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