Portsmouth Names Street for Casino Bill Author Lucas

Written By Phil West on June 5, 2024
Sen. L Louise Lucas of Portsmouth, who will have a street next to Portsmouth Casino named in her honor.

State Sen. L. Louise Lucas is being honored by her hometown of Portsmouth.

The legislator was instrumental in Portsmouth opening Rivers Casino in January 2023, the state’s first casino. Now, a street near that landmark casino will bear her name.

Last week, the Portsmouth City Council voted unanimously to rename part of TCC Drive to L. Louise Lucas Drive in honor of the longtime state lawmaker.

Rivers Casino generated $18 Million for Portsmouth in its first year

Lucas introduced Senate Bill 36 in the 2020 Virginia Senate session. It allowed the cities of Portsmouth, Richmond, Norfolk, Danville, and Bristol to host casinos pending a successful referendum vote of their residents. Virginia online casinos remain illegal.

According to the Virginian-Pilot, community activist Barry Randall-Jenkins, who bills himself as “The People’s Pastor,” made the nomination.

“Not only did her dream become a reality, but it also produced a wealthy tax stream for the city of Portsmouth in the neighborhood of $15 million plus dollars to our tax base.

“It (didn’t just) benefit the Lucas family, nor did it benefit just the Democrats of our city. It benefited all citizens.”

In its first year of operations, Rivers Casino has generated about $18.3 million for the city. Around $15.4 million has come from the city’s share of gaming tax revenue, $2.2 million in real estate tax has been raised, and about $700,000 has been collected from meals, admissions, and business taxes.

That’s even without a hotel on the property. Portsmouth Economic Development Director Brian Donahue believes with its current offerings, the property can expect to generate annual revenue of at least $16 million.

Lucas says she visits casino weekly

Lucas acknowledged the recognition to the Pilot.

“I’m ecstatic because there’s no greater honor than to be honored in your own hometown.”

She also told the Pilot that she visits the casino weekly.

“For me, it’s not about all of the winning. It’s just my entertainment. It’s a nice venue for the city, and I love it that people attend a lot and they give me feedback.”

Lucas isn’t the only notable local to be honored with a Portsmouth street. In 2022, entertainer Missy Elliott, born and raised in Portsmouth, had a street named for her. It’s also located near Rivers Casino.

Photo by Steve Helber / AP Images
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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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