Gambling on Hampton Roads
Roy Corby’s first job at a casino was as a dealer.
Now, Corby is general manager of the $300 million Rivers Casino Portsmouth, which is on track to become the first Virginia casino to open in a permanent location. It plans to open in January 2023 at the intersection of Victory and Cavalier boulevards, off Interstate 264.
But to Corby, the resort casino’s practically up and running already.
“It really starts to become real as you start to go through the dealer school, as you start to mass hire employees,” he says. The casino kicked off hiring in May with a job fair at Tidewater Community College, recruiting employees to train for dealing cards and running table games.
Rush Street Gaming, the casino’s owner, plans to hire 1,300 permanent employees. As of late June, the casino had hired 27 workers, including select leaders, Corby says, and had received 500 job applications.
Two more job fairs have been scheduled: one Aug. 20 at the Sportsplex in Portsmouth, and another Sept. 28 at the Holiday Inn Virginia Beach Norfolk Hotel and Conference Center. The casino has partnered with TCC to assist with workforce development and recruitment.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth started construction in December 2021, with Virginia Beach-based S.B. Ballard Construction Co. and Philadelphia-based Yates Construction as general contractors. Rivers Casino Portsmouth avoided supply chain issues and inflation-related cost increases by securing materials in advance, Corby says.
In July, the casino opened a 2,317-square-foot office in a coworking space on High Street in Olde Towne to house multiple administrative departments and assist with recruitment.
Interim Portsmouth Economic Development Director Brian Donahue says the casino will generate about $16 million in annual tax revenue, accounting for 7% of the city’s current gross domestic product.
Meanwhile, across the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe’s rival HeadWaters Resort & Casino is on schedule to open in 2024 next to Harbor Park, says casino spokesperson Jay Smith, adding he doesn’t have a timeline for its construction to start.
Norfolk’s city government is pondering allowing the HeadWaters casino to open a temporary facility, which Smith says could help develop customers and allow the city to draw tax revenue sooner. The temporary venue received an OK from city planners in May but still requires city council approval.
Virginia Business Associate Editors Courtney Mabeus and Robyn Sidersky contributed to this article.