Rivers Casino Portsmouth in Virginia has pushed back its grand opening from this Sunday, Jan. 15, to Monday, Jan. 23, at 10 am.
When Rivers Casino Portsmouth officially opens, it will make history by becoming the first permanent casino property in Virginia to welcome guests. Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming is behind the $340 million project that’s located near Tidewater Community College’s Portsmouth campus just south of I-264 between Missy Elliott and Victory boulevards.
Portsmouth was one of five cities that qualified to ask residents if they supported the idea of allowing a casino to be built within their city limits. The goal of the development is to spur economic activity across the region.
Portsmouth city officials selected Rush as their casino development partner and presented voters with the Rivers plan during the November 2020 presidential election. Almost 67% of the 43,699 referendum votes cast were in favor of allowing the project to proceed.
More Testing Time Needed
Rivers Casino Portsmouth is set to open with 1,448 slot machines, 57 table games, and a 24-table poker room. The property will offer 10 restaurants and bars from high-end dining at Admiral’s Steak and Seafood to quick-serve options like Slice Pizzeria and Starbucks.
Rivers says it’s hired about 1,300 team members to manage the facility, but 50 job openings remain. More details on the career vacancies can be found here.
Rivers officials said the opening delay is to allow more testing of the casino’s gaming machines.
The Virginia Lottery is charged with the licensing and regulatory oversight of all casino operations in the state. State officials are to be on-site at a licensed casino when gaming equipment arrives in order to inspect the shipment and verify that the items arrived in their original packaging and remained sealed during transit.
Once the machines are installed, gaming operations experts working on behalf of the Virginia Lottery test each device for proper function and fair play. The task is time-intensive, and another week of testing became apparent.
Providing a superior guest experience is a top priority for Rivers Casino Portsmouth,” a casino statement read. “Our intention is to be the entertainment destination of choice for Hampton Roads, and we’ll settle for nothing less.”
“We apologize for any inconvenience and look forward to welcoming our guests very soon,” the statement concluded.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth will have the advantage of opening first in Hampton Roads. The casino’s forthcoming rival — a $500 million casino called HeadWaters Resort & Casino — has been authorized in nearby Norfolk.
But unlike the Rivers team, the developers behind HeadWaters are dragging their feet. The backlog primarily arose because of HeadWaters seeking to open a temporary casino during construction of the permanent, larger casino resort.
A legal concern forced HeadWaters to rethink their plans of opening the temporary gaming facility inside Harbor Park. The provisional casino will now be constructed on the parking lot adjacent to the minor league baseball stadium on the same property where the permanent resort will be built.
Though Rivers Portsmouth will have the privilege of trying to obtain market share in the region without HeadWaters open, the latter casino will offer many amenities Rivers does not, most significantly an on-site hotel. The resort will additionally include a spa, rooftop pool, marina, retail shopping, and an event center.
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