Posted on: May 8, 2023, 09:17h.
Last updated on: May 8, 2023, 09:17h.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth in January made history by becoming the first permanent casino to open in Virginia. But as a result of securing its place in Virginia’s rich history, the property also now has the dubious distinction of being the first casino to be fined by the Virginia Lottery Board.
Virginia’s 2020 commercial gaming bill directed all regulatory responsibilities for the state’s liberalization of brick-and-mortar casinos to fall under the scope of the Virginia Lottery Board. The agency handles all licensing matters and assures compliance of gaming operations.
Board officials said alleged violations at Rivers Portsmouth were brought to the state’s attention in January and February. Based on the review, the Lottery Board informed Rivers Casino that there was evidence suggesting that the casino, directly and through its contractors and agents, had allegedly violated provisions of the state’s Casino Gaming Law and the agency’s regulations. The mishaps reportedly occurred both before and after the casino’s opening on Jan. 23, 2023.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth, owned and operated by Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming, sought to remedy the allegations through a $275,000 settlement instead of a more costly administrative hearing.
The Virginia Lottery Board explained that the allegations included Rivers allowing underage people access to the casino floor. The claims also suggested that Rivers failed to properly license certain slot machines, and also allowed a self-excluded person entry who had registered with the Lottery Board’s Voluntary Exclusion Program.
The Lottery has asserted that these actions violated the Casino Gaming Law and the regulations promulgated thereunder, and that these actions were sanctionable,” the Virginia Lottery Board’s settlement agreement with Rivers explained. “Rivers has cooperated fully with the Lottery’s inquiry into these matters, and has taken corrective measures, and has developed a corrective action plan to ensure future compliance with the Casino Gaming Law and its related regulations.”
Casinos often self-report regulatory infractions to their state gaming regulators. Self-reporting is typically a stipulation of holding a gaming license.
During the Virginia Lottery Board’s meeting on the Rivers allegations last month, a discussion ensued about how the board became aware of the violations. But Board Executive Director Kelly Gee said those details “cannot be discussed in open session.”
The Virginia Lottery Board said the review of Rivers Casino Portsmouth has been deemed settled. But if the casino encounters additional regulatory infractions in the immediate future, the settlement could be readdressed.
For now, the $275,000 payment resolves the alleged violations. The Lottery Board said the settlement “does not constitute an allegation, an admission, or a denial by either party that a violation of law or regulation has occurred.”
Virginia’s Casino Gaming Law explains that allowing persons under 21 years of age to gamble inside a brick-and-mortar casino regulated by the Board is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Rivers Casino generated gross gaming revenue (GGR) of about $24.7 million in February, its first full month in operation. March GGR was $23.6 million.
On the March haul, Rivers paid about $4.3 million in state and local taxes. About $1.4 million stayed in Portsmouth for the city’s local government.