Rivers Casino Portsmouth celebrated its grand opening on January 24, making history as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first full-service permanent casino. The event kicked off with a special performance by Norfolk State University’s “Spartan Legion” Marching Band. The local musical ensemble recently appeared in the 2023 New Year’s Rose Parade.
The morning ribbon-cutting ceremony featured remarks from Roy Corby, general manager of Rivers Casino Portsmouth; Shannon Glover, Mayor of Portsmouth; Brian Donahue, director of Portsmouth Economic Development; Kelly T. Gee, executive director, Virginia Lottery; and Tim Drehkoff, chief executive officer of Rivers Casino Portsmouth and Rush Street Gaming.
“We’re excited to join such a vibrant community and to unveil this beautiful entertainment venue for all to enjoy,” said Tim Drehkoff, CEO of Rivers Casino Portsmouth and Rush Street Gaming. “We’re grateful to the community and to our Team Members for their support, and we’re looking forward to launching this strong economic engine for the region.”
At the ceremony, Rivers Casino Portsmouth was presented with its official casino operator’s license by Gina Smith, deputy director of gaming compliance at Virginia Lottery.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth also announced a donation to three local charity partners from proceeds during gaming floor test events on 19 and 21 January. Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters; USO Hampton Roads and Central Virginia; and Wesley Community Service Center each received $170,000, representing a $510,000 total contribution from the casino.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth opened its doors to the public at approximately 10 a.m. on 23 January, and guests in attendance were among the first to experience the casino’s 1,446 slot machines, 57 table games, 24 poker tables and a myriad of onsite dining and entertainment options. Among several new restaurants are Admiral’s Steak & Seafood for high-end dining; plus, casual fare at Crossings Café, Mian, Slice Pizzeria, Starbucks; and opening later this year, Yard House, offering the world’s largest selection of draft beer.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth will provide guests with live and virtual entertainment such as BetRivers Sportsbook, Topgolf Swing Suite, and The Sound Bar.
At a preview event last Saturday, Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover, Senator L. Louise Lucas, and House Minority Leader Don Scott placed the ceremonial first wagers at the BetRivers Sportsbook adjacent to the gaming floor. The luxe sportsbook features club seating, a bar, betting windows, 27 self-service kiosks, and multiple upsized high-def screens for viewing.
A new Topgolf Swing Suite offers guests a bird’s-eye view of the gaming floor and a virtual entertainment experience. Overlooking the BetRivers Sportsbook, the swanky lounge for links fans features simulated fairways on a big screen, with club seating for spectators.
Adding to the grand opening festivities were roving magicians, jugglers, acrobats, stilt walkers, cheerleaders, and other performers.
Regional favorites “Seamless Band” and “Better by Tuesday” played for opening-day crowds in The Sound Bar, an intimate stage and lounge area that will host local bands, DJs, and more.
The Event Center, a 25,000 square-foot multipurpose grand hall and reception area, is now accepting reservations for weddings, corporate events, meetings, and more. On Monday, 16 January, the Epsilon Nu Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. held its 18th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Luncheon at The Event Center as the venue’s first-ever event. Rivers Casino Portsmouth supported as the presenting sponsor.
“We’re here to serve the community, our guests, and our Team Members,” said Roy Corby, general manager of Rivers Casino Portsmouth. “We’ll accomplish that mission by creating a stellar guest experience and becoming the entertainment destination of choice for Portsmouth, Hampton Roads, and visitors to our area.”
Rivers Casino Portsmouth will operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Guests must be over 21 to access the gaming floor. The casino offers approximately 2,000 onsite, security-surveilled parking spots. A permanent City of Portsmouth police substation also has been integrated into the facility.
S.B. Ballard Construction Company, based in Virginia Beach, along with joint-venture partner Yates Construction, are general contractors for the development. The Virginia Beach office of Kimley-Horn served as engineering consultants. Renowned gaming and hospitality designer, Klai Juba Wald is the architect of record; Jeffrey Beers International is the primary interior designer; and DMAC Architecture is the designer of interior venues.