Rivers Casino Energizes Push For Portsmouth Casino With Voter Campaign, Rendering Reveal

Posted on July 23, 2020 - Last Updated on August 21, 2020

The campaign in favor of a casino in Portsmouth has begun.

Last week, the city council and the casino’s potential developer, Rush Street Gaming, unveiled renderings of the facility. It comes on the heels of a six-figure investment into a voter education campaign to enhance the chance of approval this fall. So far, it looks like that will be the case.

Details on the proposed Portsmouth casino

Rush Street Gaming, which operates Rivers-branded casinos across the country and the online sports betting brand BetRivers, has unveiled a portrait of its plans for Portsmouth. The gaming facility will be at Victory Boulevard, south of Interstate 264.

The front of Rivers Casino Portsmouth building will be all glass. The 400,000-square-foot property will include an event center, multiple dining options, hotel rooms and, of course, many gaming positions.

While the casino should offer poker, slots and table games, VA law would also allow the casino to provide retail sports betting with the BetRivers brand.

The casino will be an inroad to VA for the online sportsbook as well.

Rush Street expects to spend $300 million to finish construction. It also boasts the project will create 1,400 construction jobs and 1,300 permanent jobs.

Construction and training a new workforce aren’t the only expenses Rush Street is preparing for, however. The company has already thrown some of its clout behind voter advocacy.

Everything depends on November for Rush Street

None of Rush Street’s plans will come to fruition if a vote in November doesn’t go its way. Portsmouth’s voters will decide Nov. 3 whether to allow casino gaming in their city.

Rush Street has already donated $100,000 to the “Vote Yescampaign in the city, which seeks to encourage Portsmouth residents to approve the referendum.

The campaign has other supporters, like Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe, who contributed $125. Portsmouth Economic Development Authority Vice Chair Malcolm Mitchell has voiced his support as well, stating in a press release that the renderings show, “a sense of the aesthetics and energy that’s consistent with where Portsmouth is headed.”

So far, there are no campaigns with similar resources working in opposition to the referendum. For that reason, “Vote Yes” seems likely to be able to get its talking points out into the community without significant challenge.

That will most likely result in the approval of the referendum. Rush Street seems to be taking no chances. Should serious opposition mount, it will likely pour more resources into the campaign.

The release of the renderings likely begins the campaign in Portsmouth. It will end this November, regardless of how Portsmouth’s citizens vote.

Rendering image courtesy of the city of Portsmouth and Rush Street Gaming.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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