Portsmouth City Officials Reveal Casino Development Deal with Rush Street Gaming, but Virginia Lawmakers First Need to Legalize Casino Gambling

Portsmouth city leaders revealed they have entered a partnership agreement with Rush Street Gaming to establish a casino venue in the city.

Under the partnership, which was officially announced on November 18th after a work session of the City Council, Rush Street Gaming has been given the right to build and develop a casino in the city. City officials have further revealed that the City of Portsmouth wants to host an entertainment district at the Victory Village site.

The city’s Mayor John L. Rowe described the newly-announced collaboration as very exciting for Portsmouth. He shared that the city officials have checked the track record of Rush Street Gaming, a company with more than two decades of experience in the gaming industry. According to Mayor Rowe, the company understands the city’s vision for the development of an integrated Entertainment District.

As revealed by city officials, Rush Street Gaming was the one chosen for the future casino venue development because of the operator’s commitment to the paramount priorities of the local community and its culture of caring, including their staff members. Apart from that, the company would be engaged with helping some non-profit organizations, which on the other hand, would help it seamlessly integrate its services in the region.

For the time being, it remains unclear what amenities would be hosted in the proposed Portsmouth casino resort.

Virginia Lawmakers Have to Greenlight Casino Gambling, Before a Portsmouth Referendum Takes Place

Still, even though the city of Portsmouth has entered into the newly-announced partnership gladly, analysts believe the developer would face some difficulties before a casino is built.

First, the partners would have to prove that the addition of a new casino venue would not affect the region in a negative way. Next week, the results of a study aimed at measuring the impact which gambling has on the state of Virginia is set to be officially announced by a state committee, and there would be more clarity on the possible setbacks that could be faced by the casino project.

Then, the General Assembly would have to give the nod to a piece of legislation to legalize gambling in the state, and then, people in Portsmouth will be given the chance to vote on the proposed casino project in a referendum election. In case the legislation legalizing gambling is passed and Portsmouth voters back the gambling venue project, city officials believe that the casino construction process could start in January 2021.

According to preliminary expectations, the proposed casino project would be able to start operation as early as 2024.

Under the newly-announced deal, a 50-acre site in close proximity to the Tidewater Community College campus is set to be sold by the city to Rush Street Gaming at the price of $400,000 per acre in case that Virginia lawmakers legalize casino gambling in the state. The minimum price of the deal is $10 million.

This is not the first time when the city of Portsmouth has unveiled its willingness to open a casino. Earlier in 2019, the city said that it would like to see a casino venue established at the site of a former Holiday Inn nearby the Elizabeth River. The waterside location, however, was later turned down, as a more appropriate site for a casino was identified by Economic Development Director Robert D. Moore.

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