Portsmouth city leaders updated on proposed casino, entertainment complex

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Based on an hour-long presentation delivered to the Portsmouth City Council Tuesday morning, all the chips lead to a new casino and entertainment complex.

It would be built in the Victory Village area off of I-264 near Victory Boulevard.

“Two casinos are feasible in Hampton Roads, that given the site – the Portsmouth site is awesome,” Mayor John Rowe explained. “That 60% of the revenue that would be generated by casinos in Hampton Roads would come from the Portsmouth site.”

A consulting team presented the finding from a "casino market study" to council.

They noted that Portsmouth is the second least-visited Hampton Roads city and has a higher unemployment rate than the state average.

“The jobs created by the casino will help Portsmouth be more on par with the rest of the surrounding cities as well as the state,” John Repa, the President of Hospitality and Gaming Solutions, explained.

The site could feature a large hotel, movie theater, casino, concert hall, restaurants and more.

Sitting on more than 50 acres of land, the consultants say that the casino to bring in more than $300 million in gaming revenue in the first year. However, some people we spoke with who attended Tuesday's meeting said they don’t like the idea of this being in their backyard.

Related: Legislation would permit Pamunkey Indians to open resort casinos in Virginia 

Off-camera, some homeowners say because of potentially more traffic, they’d like the site elsewhere.

Others raised different concerns, calling it just a "pretty picture."

“What we’re trying to do is try and provide an objective study that hopefully presents the realities of what we think is possible give the assumptions, given the data,” Alan Meister of Meister Economic Consulting said.

Mayor Rowe said the project has a long way to go, including potential legislation in the general assembly.

It would be 2024 before they could operate the proposed project.

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