Rivers Casino Portsmouth Economic Impact Exceeding Expectations In Its First Year

Written By Hill Kerby on November 9, 2023
Photo of the exterior of Rivers Casino Portsmouth on a story about how the gaming place has exceeded economic goals in its first year.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth just celebrated nine months in business, and it’s already having a greater effect on the community than expected.

Parent company Rush Street Interactive presented slides during last week’s Virginia Lottery Board meeting that Rivers Casino Portsmouth generated nearly $10 million in local taxes since opening on Jan. 23.

Rivers was Virginia’s first full-scale casino and the second overall to open in the Commonwealth. There are three total casinos in Virginia, with two more — in Norfolk and Richmond — being mulled as options. Online casinos in Virginia are illegal.

Rivers Casino will pass revenue expectations in first year

Rush Street’s data uses statistics from Jan. 23 through Aug. 31, less than seven-and-a-half months. Initial projections estimated the Virginia casino would bring in $16.3 million in annual tax revenue across all sources, including gaming, real estate, hospitality and food and beverage.

Through seven-plus months, its $9.8 million in gaming revenue taxes projects to be around $16 million for the first year. Add in real estate, etc., and that impact increases significantly.

Key metrics from Rivers Casino Portsmouth’s report:

  • $165.2 million in gaming revenue
  • $6.7 million in food & beverage revenue (taxed at 7.5% in Portsmouth)
  • $29.7 million in state taxes
  • $9.8 million in local taxes
  • $621K in property taxes

Since opening, Rivers Casino Portsmouth has generated at least $40 million in total tax revenue, including state taxes. On top of that, the casino created over 1,300 jobs, many filled by Portsmouth residents.

Nearly 1,100 of those jobs were new team member hires – 34% were Portsmouth residents, 54% were female and 63% were minorities. The casino also filled another 237 leadership positions.

  • 49% female
  • 50% minority
  • 29% promoted from within
  • 49% of promotions to female team members

More positive impacts on the community

In addition to providing tax revenue and new jobs, Rivers Casino Portsmouth announced it worked with 183 Virginia-based vendors and suppliers. It spent $9.5 million with those local companies, including $862 to women and minority-owned businesses and $3.1 million to businesses based in Portsmouth.

Rivers also hosted two major community events, the 2023 Workforce Innovation Awards and the Military Economic Development Advisory Committee (MEDAC) joint meeting for Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach. It was the first time the MEDAC hosted the conference in Portsmouth.

The casino announced it donated another $775,000 through various means of corporate giving, including:

  • 874.5 volunteer hours donated to local initiatives and events.
  • $55K raised in donation drives with a handful of local foundations.
  • $78K+ worth of school supplies, food, clothing, hygiene, and other in-kind donations.

Competition stiffening among VA casinos

After nine months, Rivers remains Virginia’s only full-service casino. The other two – Hard Rock Casino Bristol (opened July 2022) and Caesars Danville (opened May 2023) – run out of temporary facilities.

Rivers has been the top revenue producer in Virginia every full month since opening. It needed just over five months to reach 1 million visitors, and admissions haven’t slowed since.

However, Caesars has brought competition from its temporary facility and will threaten the top spot when its permanent resort opens, if not sooner.

Since June, it has generated more slot revenue than Rivers despite having significantly fewer machines. For now, Rivers maintains its edge through table games.

Virginia Casino Revenue June-Sept 2023

Casino nameNo. SlotsSlot AGRNo. TablesTable Game AGRTotal AGR
Rivers Portsmouth1,461$56,416,73081$28,064,693$84,481,423
Caesars Danville818$58,707,32025$20,410,705$79,118,025
HR Bristol915$43,503,23629$9,351,129$52,854,365

Two additional Virginia casinos could eventually come, though the futures of Norfolk’s HeadWaters Resort and Casino and the Richmond Casino Resort remain uncertain.

Rivers has plans to expand on its permanent gambling facility, adding a 300-room hotel, entertainment venue and other resort-style amenities. Construction has yet to begin.

Hard Rock Bristol plans to open its permanent hotel and casino in July 2024. Caesars Danville will follow, planning to open by the end of 2024.

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Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby is a proponent of safe, legal betting, and is grateful to be able to contribute to growing the industry. He has a background in poker, sports, and psychology, all of which he incorporates into his writing.

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