May 18, 2024

Is Rivers Casino Portsmouth bringing in out-of-state visitors? – News 3 WTKR Norfolk

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Before Portsmouth’s Rivers Casino was built, a state study predicted it would bring in revenue from visitors coming from out-of-state.
It’s been open for more than a year now, so is the prediction coming true?
News 3 caught up with hopeful winners as they hit the slot machines and tables Saturday.
“I hope I win big today,” laughed Teresa Jholston, of Suffolk.
Jholston’s stopping in from down the road but said she only had one reason to be in Portsmouth.
“Yeah, we came down here just to go to the casino,” said Jholston.
Since the casino opened in January 2023, it’s been busy. It saw more than two million visitors the first year.
“Virginia needed something that had the spark to bring people in. I think having it here, it actually allows people to come out and have fun and not get in trouble,” said Sophia Ward, of Suffolk.
It generated $250 million in revenue its first year of business, which meant $15 million in taxes to the city.
Some casino-goers told News 3 Saturday, they enjoy visiting the casino but want Virginia to solve the debate on gambling hosted by smaller businesses in the area.
“Either way they’re making money and they don’t want to put these machines and raise these businesses up,” said Jholston.
Those News 3 spoke with were from Suffolk.
But where else are casino-goers coming from?
“Oh, we’ve had visitors from all 50 states as well as countries around the world,” said Roy Corby, general manager of Rivers Casino Portsmouth.
 
Corby said, according to visitor IDs, roughly 36 percent of people come from outside the region.
“We talk a lot about being Portsmouth proud and it’s one more amenity to the city. It’s nice to be a destination resort if you will. And for the brand it just shows we’re capable of driving people to an area,” said Corby.
More than 20% of Rivers Casino Portsmouth visitors were from out-of-state between October and December last year, according to the Virginia Lottery Board’s January meeting. Virginia’s Tourism Corp. reports the top out-of-state origin was North Carolina.
However, research showed the casino might not be a “tourist destination” yet—most visitors are day visitors from Hampton Roads making a quick stop for gambling or entertainment. 
“I’m always trying to find out what is going on inside the casino, you know. They have different things for artists that want to perform on the stage and whatnot. So, it’s something new in Portsmouth,” explained Ward.
If you have questions about gambling or would like to talk to someone about problem gambling you can call the helpline at 1-888-532-3500 or find more resources here.

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