PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The $300-million Rivers Casino Portsmouth has officially broken ground.
Representatives with Rush Street Gaming and local city officials participated in Tuesday morning’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new casino set to open in 2023 in Portsmouth.
Notable attendees included Del. Barry Knight, Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover, Sen. L. Louise Lucas. Robert D. Moore with Portsmouth Economic Development, Rush Street Gaming CEO Greg Carlin, Rivers Casino Portsmouth General Manager Roy Corby, and members of Portsmouth City Council.
Watch the full ceremony below.
The $300 million-plus project on Victory Boulevard will feature a 50,000-square-foot casino with 1,890 gaming “positions,” a sportsbook, restaurants, a live entertainment lounge and more than 62,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor event space that can host concerts, weddings and meetings. The facility is also proposed to have a 250-room hotel.
Lucas, a lifelong resident of Portsmouth, has advocated for this project for more than 20 years. She and Del. Knight partnered up as a bipartisan team.
“I woke up this morning and thought ‘Wow, this is finally happening!” said Lucas. “Folks were saying to me ‘there’s no way in hell you’re ever going to build a casino in Portsmouth,’ but look at us now.”
The casino will bring more than 1,300 new permanent local jobs, approximately 1,400 construction jobs and will generate an estimated $16 million in new annual tax revenue for Portsmouth.
Casino Manager Roy Corby says the search for workers will gear up in January.
“We’re going to set up a storefront in downtown Portsmouth … to start handing out applications start talking about what the benefit packages will look like,” said Corby.
However, it’s not a slam dunk yet, according to the Virginia Lottery. As of Nov. 24, Rivers Casino Portsmouth was not an approved casino vendor.
Despite that approval still hanging in the balance, partners in the project are pushing forward with construction.
The spokesperson for Rivers Casino Portsmouth said in a statement:
“Rivers Casino Portsmouth was pre-certified by the Virginia Lottery in July 2020 to operate a casino in Virginia. We respect the licensing process and are working diligently with the Virginia Lottery Board, as they thoughtfully create a regulatory environment that will best serve the Commonwealth.”
In the meantime, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe is still expected to break ground for its downtown Norfolk casino early next year. The Headwaters Resort and Casino — by Harbor Park on the Elizabeth River — is still on a timeline for a 2023 opening date.
BELOW: Drone 10 over Portsmouth casino site Dec. 7, 2021.