Ahead of its grand opening on January 23, 2023, patrons were seen standing in a line outside Rivers Casino Portsmouth. However, the Virginia casino has now agreed to pay the state a sum of $275K, following three allegations of compliance breaches.
Under Virginia’s 2020 commercial gaming bill, the Virginia Lottery Board is responsible for all regulatory matters related to brick-and-mortar casinos, including licensing and ensuring compliance of gaming operations.
Board officials revealed that alleged violations at Rivers Portsmouth were brought to the state’s attention in January and February. After a review, the Lottery Board informed Rivers Casino that there was evidence to suggest that it, along with its contractors and agents, had breached provisions of the state’s Casino Gaming Law and the agency’s regulations. These incidents occurred both before and after the casino’s opening.
To avoid a more costly administrative hearing, Rivers Casino Portsmouth, owned and operated by Rush Street Gaming based in Chicago, has decided to settle the allegations by paying $275K.
The Virginia Lottery Board alleged the Rivers violations included allowing underage people access to the casino floor. The claims also suggested that Rivers failed to properly license certain slot machines, and allowed a self-excluded person entry who had registered with the Lottery Board’s Voluntary Exclusion Program.
The Lottery has asserted that these actions violated the Casino Gaming Law and the regulations promulgated thereunder, and that these actions were sanctionable,” the Virginia Lottery Board’s settlement agreement with Rivers explained. “Rivers has cooperated fully with the Lottery’s inquiry into these matters, and has taken corrective measures, and has developed a corrective action plan to ensure future compliance with the Casino Gaming Law and its related regulations.”
Casinos often self-report regulatory infractions to their state gaming regulators. Self-reporting is typically a stipulation of holding a gaming license.
During the Virginia Lottery Board’s meeting on the Rivers allegations last month, a discussion ensued about how the board became aware of the violations. Board Executive Director Kelly Gee said those details “cannot be discussed in open session.”
The Virginia Lottery Board has settled its review of Rivers Casino Portsmouth. However, if the casino commits additional regulatory infractions in the near future, the settlement may be reconsidered.
At present, the alleged violations have been resolved through the $275K payment, but the settlement does not constitute an admission or denial of any violation of law or regulation by either party. According to Virginia’s Casino Gaming Law, allowing individuals under 21 years of age to gamble in a brick-and-mortar casino regulated by the Board is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth generated around $24.7 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR) in February, its first full month of operation. The GGR for March was $23.6 million, resulting in approximately $4.3 million paid in state and local taxes, with $1.4 million staying in Portsmouth for the local government.