Developers reveal renderings for planned Portsmouth casino, spend $100k to help launch ‘Vote Yes’ campaign

Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — For the first time since its initial proposal, renderings for a $300-million casino in Portsmouth have been released.

The gaming, conference and hotel complex — called Rivers Casino Portsmouth — is proposed to sit south of Interstate 264 at Victory Boulevard.

The renderings, released by Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming and the City of Portsmouth, show a glass-faced, modern complex with a digital sign across the front of the casino.

The 400,000-square-foot facility will be accompanied by both garage and lot parking.

The casino will have a full lineup of slots, table games and poker. The complex will have multiple restaurants, as well.

“From these images, we get a sense of the aesthetics and energy that’s consistent with where Portsmouth is headed,” said Malcom Mitchell, vice chair of the Economic Development Authority, in a joint news release from the city and Rush Street Gaming. “Rivers Casinos in New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois were each constructed on underutilized land — and today those casinos are surrounded by restaurants, theaters, stadiums and other development activity. The enhanced renderings are really bringing the vision for the corridor to life – it’s an exciting next step.”

The phased approach will start with the casino and entertainment venue portion of the project. It’s expected to create more than 1,300 new permanent local jobs and about 1,400 construction jobs.

Those permanent jobs are estimated to bring at least $62 million in annual wages, tips and salaries.

Rush Street will be required to invest a minimum of $300 million into the project under state legislation. The company will also pay an additional $10 million to Portsmouth for the Victory Boulevard land.

On July 15, the Virginia Lottery gave initial pre-certification to four casino developers — including Rush Street for the Portsmouth project — to go in front of voters Nov. 3 for their approval.

The proposed casino projects that gained initial approval, or pre-certification, are in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth. The $500-million casino in Norfolk is proposed to be next to Harbor Park.

The approval came following a preliminary review by the Lottery Board. The step is required by statute before each city with proposed casinos could schedule voter referendums.

A more in-depth review is also needed before final approval.

The more extensive review will include a developer’s criminal history as well as financial performance investigations of designated gaming operators according to a release from the lottery. That process will not begin until after the Lottery Board approves emergency casino regulations in April 2021 and begins accepting applications.  

Referendum

Rush Street Gaming has also helped fund “Vote Yes Portsmouth,” a referendum committee reporting to the Virginia Department of Elections. Under state law, the committees can be formed to advocate for the passage or defeat of a referendum held in a single county or city.

In order for the casino to become a reality, a majority of voters of Portsmouth must vote “yes” to allow gambling at the Victory Boulevard site in November.

The committee was formed on June 12th according to the state Michael Stallings being appointed as Treasurer. Stallings lives next door to Mayor John Rowe, who was the first donating at $125 according to campaign finance reports. On June 19, Rush Street gaming contributed $100,000.


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