Portsmouth Gets Second Virginia Casino License

Written By Russ Mitchell on November 18, 2022
Virginia casino license for Rivers Casino Portsmouth

When Rivers Casino Portsmouth is ready, the paperwork will be too. The Virginia Lottery Board on Wednesday granted its second Virginia casino license to the Hampton Roads venue.

That doesn’t mean doors are open for betting in Portsmouth just yet. As a comparison, the lottery board granted Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol the state’s first license in April, but Bristol Casino — Future Home of Hard Rock didn’t open until July 8.

Still, Rivers Casino Portsmouth cleared a big hurdle with Wednesday’s 7-0 vote of approval from the VA Lottery Board. Chairman Ferhan Hamid said:

“The gaming landscape in Virginia continues to evolve. And, the Lottery Board is committed to ensuring that casinos in the Commonwealth are operated responsibly, fairly and with the utmost integrity. While not all Virginians will choose to visit these facilities, all of our citizens need to be confident that they are regulated with the very highest standards.”

Casino operators in Caesars Virginia in Danville and HeadWaters Resort & Casino in Norfolk will join Bristol as they set up temporary casino plans. Rivers Portsmouth Gaming LLC is skipping the temporary casino model though. They hope to open their $300 million casino in early 2023.

Each of the four venues must clear background checks before they receive a Virginia casino license.

That means it’s two down, two to go for the Virginia Lottery.

“The Lottery works with all casino applicants, their vendors and employees to make sure all aspects of the operation are in strict compliance,” its Executive Director Kelly Gee said.

Richmond or Petersburg could be a fifth Virginia casino license applicant. Those cities are jousting for position.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth has its Virginia casino license: Now what?

Portsmouth Gaming is investing $300 million into the casino. It will be located at the corner of Victory Blvd. and Freedom Ave. in the city.

Rivers Casino is expected to earn $16 million in annual tax revenue. Plans could always change, but for now the project includes:

  • BetRivers Sportsbook
  • Table games and slot machines
  • Full-service hotel
  • Live event center
  • Conference and meeting space
  • And the following restaurants and bars
    • BetRivers Sportsbook will provide bar food, craft beer and cocktails in its lounge
    • Admiral’s Steak and Seafood serves high-end options including prime meat and fresh seafood.
    • The servers at the TopGolf Swing Suite golf simulator take orders for drinks and bar food there.
    • Mian offers quick service and made-to-order Chinese food.
    • Crossings Cafe serves American cuisine.
    • Slice Pizzeria and Starbucks round out the offerings so far.

Workers began clearing the land for the project in Aug. 2021 while waiting for licensing from the VA Lottery. Crews then broke ground this past December.

Portsmouth relies on about 1,400 temporary construction jobs during the build-out phase.

Photo by File Image
Russ Mitchell Avatar
Written by

Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell covered news and sports in Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most decorated community newspapers in the state. He joined PlayIA as a lead writer and managing editor in 2021. He anxious to explore the growing Virginia gaming industry.

View all posts by Russ Mitchell