Virginia’s first permanent casino Rivers Casino Portsmouth holds charity soft opening

Virginia’s first freestanding casino, Rivers Casino Portsmouth, is now open for business after several years in the making. The casino held a soft opening charitable event Thursday night prior to its public grand opening, which is scheduled to take place next Monday at 10 a.m.

Hundreds of people participated in the soft opening event. As guests entered the casino, they encountered metal detection systems and other security measures. Casino authorities said safety is a major priority, adding that guests that win big will also be escorted by officers to their vehicles when they leave. 

We have a state-of-the-art surveillance system, security patrols throughout the parking lot, and over 1,000 surveillance cameras. Plus the city of Portsmouth asked us to put some cameras on top of the building for them. It gives them a great view of what’s going on down Victory Boulevard and Missy Elliot Boulevard,” said Roy Corby, Rivers Casino’s general manager, as reported by WKTR.

The casino features 1,448 slot machines and 57 tables for games like craps, roulette, and blackjack. There is also a high-stakes gambling area towards the back of the facility. Additionally, the property features a poker room with 24 tables as well as an area where players can cash in their winnings, and a host check-in area. The poker room is apart from the main floor. 

[The poker room] will have their own cage, so they don’t have to go out onto the floor to check out, and a host podium check-in,” Corby explained to the above-mentioned media.

The casino’s BetRivers Sportsbook features a 750-foot monitor that can simultaneously show 30 games and includes 27 kiosks where guests can place their own bets. Overlooking the sportsbook will be a Topgolf suite with three bays, each holding up to eight guests.

The facility also features a Sound Bar with live entertainment on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, with room for 120 people. It has a rounded bar with 88 seats and tables with seating near the stage.

Additionally, the casino features three restaurants which are accessible from outside the main floor and anyone, even those younger than 21, is able to eat there. Lastly, the property features a 25,000-square-foot event center that can be used as a convention space for conferences and performances.  

“Being the first in the state really sets a tone for what a host community should expect from a casino partner,” Corby said. “Working with the state of Virginia and the Virginia Lottery Board to get these things accomplished has been a fantastic voyage…it’s surreal that we’re finally going to get into the mode of, ok let’s actually operate a casino.”

Construction of the $340 million, 250,000-square-foot casino began in December 2021. The facility is operated by Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming. The entertainment venue, located along Victory Drive in Portsmouth, is the commonwealth’s first permanent casino, though a temporary casino operated by Hard Rock has been open in Bristol since July. 

Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover says the city is expecting to make $16.3 million in tax revenue from the casino during its first four years. “45% of our land is owned by the federal government. So we don’t get any tax revenue from that land,” said Mayor Glover. “Those new tax revenue dollars are going to go to things that are critically important to our city…our schools, our police and fire, our infrastructure.”

And with plans to put in a hotel and develop the area surrounding the casino, Glover says the city has many more cards up its sleeve. “Yard House, the restaurant in Virginia Beach, will have a restaurant in the casino to be opened in September,” he explained to WTKR. “This casino is going to bring new visitors to the city of Portsmouth. They’re going to see a new Portsmouth and see that we’re heading in a bold, new direction.”