PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Rivers Casino Portsmouth agreed to pay $275,000 in a settlement agreement with the Virginia Lottery for a trio of violations, including underage gambling, licensing requirements related to slot machines and unauthorized games in play.
According to the settlement agreement between the two parties, the alleged violations took place before and after the casino’s Jan. 23 grand opening. The violations, it said, came from the casino directly, and through its contractors and agents.
State Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) sponsored the bill for Rivers to get its Virginia license, enabling it to become the commonwealth’s first full-service casino.
“I’m not gonna allow anybody to clobber Rivers Casino over the head because they might have made a few missteps. They’re working on fixing it, and I trust them to do it,” Lucas told 10 On Your side Monday.
Rivers spokeswoman Kelli Webb confirmed Tuesday afternoon the $275,000 has already been paid to the Lottery Board.
“We take these matters very seriously and respect the decision of the Virginia Lottery Board. We cooperated fully and share the VLB’s commitment to compliance and regulatory vigilance,” Webb said in a statement.
Regarding the verification that visitors are at least 21, Webb said “Rivers Casino Portsmouth checks IDs for all individuals entering the gaming floor.”
“Specifically, the Lottery identified alleged violations with respect to underage and voluntarily excluded persons, licensing requirements related to slot machines and unauthorized games in play,” and the lottery’s executive director, Kelly Gee, proposed a settlement amount.
Over the first two months of 2023, the lottery and Rivers Casino reviewed the alleged violations of the Casino Gaming Law that took place at the Portsmouth casino.
“Rivers has cooperated fully with the Lottery’s inquiry into these matters,” according to the settlement agreement, and “has taken corrective measures and has developed a corrective action plan to ensure future compliance with the Casino Gaming Law and its related regulations.”
Both parties sought to resolve the issues without a formal administrative hearing.
In the terms and conditions of the settlement, it said the agreement was a means to settling the alleged violations “and avoiding the potential expense and inconvenience of a formal hearing,” and that the settlement agreement “does not constitute an allegation, an admission, or a denial by either party that a violation of law or regulation has occurred.”
Any violations of the settlement agreement could lead to sanctions or penalties to Rivers Casino. The agreement only involves alleged violations that took place between Jan. 1 and the date of the settlement agreement. It was signed by Rivers Portsmouth Gaming LLC Chief Executive Officer Tim Drehkoff on March 22, and by the Virginia Lottery’s Deputy Executive Director of Gaming Compliance Gina Smith March 28.
During the Lottery Board’s April meeting, Gee outlined the settlement agreement, and in a question from a board member about how it became aware of the situation, added that she could not discuss the matter in open session since “the details of these kinds of investigations cannot be discussed in open session, but I do want to just reiterate for the board that the lottery onsite compliance team, our headquarters team, worked with the casino to address the scope of the alleged violations and the remedial measures.”
The consent agreement will stay in effect as long as another violation does not take place, Gee said.
Gee said she considered the matter closed, and the fine will go into the state’s general fund.
Rivers Casino had more than $9 million in total revenue in its first week and a half, and Portsmouth collected $542,357.39 in taxes, with the casino generating more than $1.6 million for that period of January, with $1,068,444 going to the state through the lottery’s Gaming Proceeds Fund.
The casino had $23.6 million in revenue in March – $15.9 million from slots and $7.6 million from table games – according to the Virginia Lottery’s monthly gaming report, and nearly $24.7 million in revenue in February, its first full month.
Rivers Casino received its operating license Nov. 16, 2022.
The casino is the second approved casino facility operator in Virginia, after the Hard Rock Bristol Casino that was approved in July 2022.
The two casinos reported $37.4 million in gaming revenue in March, and $38.4 million in February, with slots accounting for $27.8 million of the total and table games $9.5 million.
The Virginia Lottery Board last month approved a casino facility operator’s license for Caesar’s Virginia LLC, to be located in Danville.