PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The possibility of a casino coming to the City of Portsmouth is one step closer to coming to fruition — but there are still several steps left in the process.

On Tuesday, Portsmouth City Council approved a casino development proposal with Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming during a public meeting, Rush Street Gaming announced in a news release.

The move comes just one week after the Portsmouth Economic Development Authority approved a development agreement with Rush Street Gaming.

Rush Street Gaming is a casino developer and operator that has four casinos in Pennsylvania, Illinois and New York state under the “Rivers Casino” branding.

In November, City Council unanimously approved a “memorandum of understanding” with Rush Street Gaming, moving forward with negotiations for the project.

The actual development of a casino is dependent on approval through a citywide referendum. The agreement and proposal are part of a package that will be sent to the Lottery Board in Richmond.

The Lottery Board will need to approve and certify the package to allow a city referendum to be held. The referendum would be put on Portsmouth ballots in November for residents to vote on.

If approved, the casino proposal includes a phased approach that will begin with a casino and entertainment venue along Interstate 264. The development will include a variety of restaurants, a sportsbook and other entertainment opportunities.

“This development agreement is an important step in the approval process and is very exciting for Portsmouth,” said Portsmouth Mayor John L. Rowe. “Rush Street Gaming, led by Neil Bluhm and his team, has a great national reputation, and they have an impeccable track record of more than 20 years in the gaming industry. They understand Portsmouth’s vision for the Entertainment District beyond the mere presence of the casino.”

The city says a casino will boost tourism and increase the number of temporary and permanent jobs in the area.

Rush Street will be required to invest a minimum of $300 million by state legislation. It will also bring about 1,400 construction jobs to the area and 2,000-plus permanent new jobs.

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

“Rush Street Gaming welcomes the opportunity to work with the Virginia Lottery Board,” said Jacob Oberman, senior vice president of development for Rush Street. “Certainly, there is plenty of work ahead to demonstrate our suitability before the Board, the residents of the city and the Commonwealth at large. We couldn’t be more eager to get started.”

Click here to learn more about the Rivers Casino Portsmouth project.

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