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City officials break ground on Portsmouth Rivers Casino

The casino's expected opening is scheduled for early 2023.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Every time Robert Moore passes the blue fence line on Victory Boulevard, he thinks of one word. 

“I'm reminded of opportunity," Moore said.

Tuesday, the City of Portsmouth officially broke ground on Rivers Casino Portsmouth, one of two casino projects coming soon to the Hampton Roads area. City leaders like Mayor Shannon Glover, and lawmakers like State Sen. Louise Lucas and Del. Barry Knight, swapped desks for hard hats for the day, for the ceremonial groundbreaking. 

Representatives from the casino anticipate the project to add approximately 1,300 permanent jobs to the area, as well as 1,400 construction jobs while it's being built. 

Moore, Portsmouth's Director of Economic Development, says the casino should bring in as much as $16 million in tax revenue annually to the city. 

“It will truly be a game-changer, this will be 200-thousand square feet of casino," Mayor Glover said ahead of the groundbreaking ceremony. "I'm a football guy, that's about four football fields."

Voters approved casinos in both Portsmouth and Norfolk in the 2021 November elections, by a nearly 2-1 vote. 

Site and prep work have already been happening at the intersection of Victory and Freedom Avenue for months, and the land is hardly recognizable more than a year after its approval. 

Trees have been cleared and the land beside Tidewater Community College is leveled to make way for the casino.

“In a city that has 95 thousand people, 50% of its land is non-taxable because it's held by local or state government," Moore said when asked why the new tax revenue is so important to the city. 

Soon, drivers might start seeing the framework of the casino going up as early as January of 2022. 

“From a construction standpoint, in January you’ll start to see steel arrive, you’ll see the building getting erected. Behind the scenes you’ll see job fairs happening," Roy Corby said, General Manager for Rivers Casino Portsmouth. 

Corby confirmed the Virginia Lottery still hasn’t officially approved the casino license. The casino's expected opening is so far scheduled for early 2023.