Posted on: March 16, 2023, 11:25h.
Last updated on: March 16, 2023, 11:34h.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth reported gross gaming revenue (GGR) of more than $24.6 million in its first full month in operation.
The Hampton Roads casino, the first permanent casino property to open in Virginia, was built for $340 million. The venue is owned and operated by Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming. The company additionally has Rivers-branded casinos in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New York.
Rush’s Virginia casino is off to a dazzling start. The Virginia Lottery, which regulates commercial casino gambling in the commonwealth, reported Wednesday that Rivers Portsmouth won $17.1 million on its slots and $7.5 million on its tables for a combined February GGR haul of approximately $24.6 million.
Rivers’ February gaming tax responsibility totaled more than $4.4 million, with Portsmouth’s allocation being about $1.5 million.
Rivers Portsmouth has 1,420 slot machines and 81 table games. The casino’s $24.6 million in February GGR doesn’t include revenue from its BetRivers Sportsbook. Those numbers will be released later by the Virginia Lottery.
Expectations Exceeded Early
Rivers Casino Portsmouth was the second legal casino to open in Virginia after Hard Rock Bristol opened its temporary gaming space inside the former Bristol Mall last July. Hard Rock has begun construction on its permanent, $400 million resort that’s expected to open sometime in the summer of 2024.
Hard Rock Bristol’s temporary casino, which includes 890 slot machines and 23 tables, reported February GGR of about $11.2 million.
Before its opening, Rivers Portsmouth forecast that it would benefit the Portsmouth local government with about $16 million annually in new tax money. That estimate comes to about $1.3 million a month, meaning Rivers topped its premarket forecast in its first full month in operation.
We are grateful to our team members, guests, and the community for their continued support,” Rivers Casino Portsmouth General Manager Roy Corby told The Virginian-Pilot.
But with the excitement of the casino opening over, and concerns remaining about the property’s permittance of indoor smoking in certain gaming sections, March could be a better indicator of whether Rivers will be able to live up to its pre-opening revenue projections.
Almost immediately after Rivers Casino Portsmouth opened on January 23, many patrons expressed criticism of the widespread prevalence of cigarette smoke.
Virginia’s Indoor Clean Air Act of 2013 provided exemptions for state-licensed gaming facilities. At the time, Virginia was only home to pari-mutuel horse racing and off-track betting facilities.
Hearing the feedback, Rivers Portsmouth on January 30 announced that about half of its gaming floor would be reserved for nonsmoking. But despite the casino’s air filtration system, customers continue to express grievances with the ongoing stench of tobacco.
The property has an average Google rating of 3.4/5 stars based on more than 650 reviews. The bulk of the low grades cited smoking as the primary reason for the poor mark.
“People smoke wherever regardless of posted signs,” said Duane Moseley in a review posted Thursday. “Clean casino and bathrooms but too much cigarette smoking!” added Rose Williams.
Another recent reviewer, Robert Howard III, said he enjoyed both the smoking and nonsmoking sections, but found more luck in the smoke.
“Won $35 in the smoking area and lost $30 in nonsmoking,” Howard summarized.