Grand opening held Monday

Rivers Casino Portsmouth opens to the general public, becomes Virginia's first permanent casino

2023-01-24
Reading time 2:48 min

Rivers Casino Portsmouth is now officially open for business after a grand ceremony held on Monday, making it Virginia’s first full-service permanent casino. The property, located in Hampton Roads, held a ceremonial ribbon-cutting event attended by representatives from Rivers Casino Portsmouth, Rush Street Gaming and the City of Portsmouth.

The event kicked off with a performance by Norfolk State University’s “Spartan Legion” Marching Band. The ceremony also featured remarks from Roy Corby, general manager of Rivers Casino Portsmouth; Shannon Glover, Mayor of Portsmouth; Brian Donahue, director of Portsmouth Economic Development; Kelly T. Gee, executive director, Virginia Lottery; and Tim Drehkoff, chief executive officer of Rivers Casino Portsmouth and Rush Street Gaming.

“We’re excited to join such a vibrant community and to unveil this beautiful entertainment venue for all to enjoy,” said Tim Drehkoff, CEO of Rivers Casino Portsmouth and Rush Street Gaming. “We’re grateful to the community and to our team members for their support, and we’re looking forward to launching this strong economic engine for the region.”

At the ceremony, Rivers Casino Portsmouth was presented with its official casino operator’s license by Gina Smith, deputy director of gaming compliance at Virginia Lottery. The property also announced a donation to three local charity partners from proceeds during gaming floor test events on January 19 and 21, which Yogonet reported on last week. Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters; USO Hampton Roads and Central Virginia; and Wesley Community Service Center each received $170,000 — representing a $510,000 total contribution.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth opened its doors to the public at approximately 10 a.m. Guests in attendance were then able to try their luck on the casino’s 1,446 slot machines, 57 table games and 24 poker tables, as well as enjoy onsite dining and entertainment options. New restaurants include Admiral’s Steak & Seafood for high-end dining; casual fare at Crossings Café, Mian, Slice Pizzeria, Starbucks; and opening later this year, draft beer options at Yard House.

At the preview event last Saturday, Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover, Senator L. Louise Lucas, and House Minority Leader Don Scott placed the ceremonial first wagers at the BetRivers Sportsbook adjacent to the gaming floor. The sportsbook features club seating, a bar, betting windows, 27 self-service kiosks, and multiple upsized high-def screens for viewing.

A new Topgolf Swing Suite is also part of the property, offering guests a bird’s-eye view of the gaming floor and a virtual entertainment experience. Overlooking the BetRivers Sportsbook, the swanky lounge for links fans features simulated fairways on a big screen, with club seating for spectators.

Adding to the grand opening festivities were roving magicians, jugglers, acrobats, stilt walkers, cheerleaders, and other performers. Regional favorites Seamless Band and Better by Tuesday played for opening-day crowds in The Sound Bar, an intimate stage and lounge area that will host local bands, DJs, and more.

The Event Center, a 25,000-square-foot multipurpose hall and reception area, is now accepting reservations for weddings, corporate events, meetings, and more. On Monday, January 16, the Epsilon Nu Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. held its 18th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Luncheon at The Event Center as the venue’s first-ever event. 

“We’re here to serve the community, our guests, and our team members,” said Roy Corby, general manager of Rivers Casino Portsmouth. “We’ll accomplish that mission by creating a stellar guest experience and becoming the entertainment destination of choice for Portsmouth, Hampton Roads, and visitors to our area.”

Rivers Casino Portsmouth will operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week. The casino offers approximately 2,000 onsite, security-surveilled parking spots. A permanent City of Portsmouth police substation also has been integrated into the facility. S.B. Ballard Construction Company, along with joint-venture partner Yates Construction, are general contractors for the development.

The construction of the $340 million, 250,000-square-foot casino began in December 2021. The much-awaited debut makes it the commonwealth’s first permanent casino, though a temporary casino operated by Hard Rock has been open in Bristol since July. Portsmouth expects to make $16.3 million in tax revenue from the casino during its first four years.

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