Rush Street Gaming announces general contractor for Portsmouth casino

Va. Beach’s S.B. Ballard Construction will work on $300M project in joint venture

Rendering courtesy the city of Portsmouth and Rush Street Gaming.
Rendering courtesy the city of Portsmouth and Rush Street Gaming.

Rush Street Gaming, the developer and gaming operator for the upcoming $300 million Rivers Casino Portsmouth, announced Friday it has chosen a joint venture between Virginia Beach-based S.B. Ballard Construction Co. and Philadelphia, Mississippi-based Yates Construction as the resort casino’s general contractor.

Ballard and Yates will construct the 400,000-square-foot casino, which will include a hotel, indoor and outdoor concert venues, conference space and multiple restaurants. Rush Street Gaming in July 2020 revealed the initial renderings for the project, which will also include parking garage and surface parking.

S.B. Ballard was founded in 1978 and has constructed more than $1 billion and nearly 10 million square feet worth of projects in Hampton Roads. Yates Construction has built more than 250 hospitality and gaming-related projects, specializing in casinos, resorts, hotels, condos and sport venues. 

In September 2020, Rush Street Gaming announced it would offer 5% or $5 million ownership (whichever is greater) of the Rivers Casino Portsmouth to a local minority-owned business or private investor who is a person of color. On Friday Rush Street announced that the casino “aspires to a goal of 30% spend constructing the casino come from businesses that are either minority-owned or certified as SWaM [Small, Women-owned, and Minority-owned] or DBE [Disadvantaged Business Enterprise].”

Rush Street Gaming on Feb. 16 will host a virtual construction trade partner outreach program from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. to inform prospective subcontractors about bidding opportunities.

“Rush Street Gaming has a long and proud record of diversity and inclusion throughout all its business operations nationwide,” Rivers Casino Portsmouth spokesperson Delceno Miles said in a statement.  “Rivers Casino Portsmouth will utilize minority, women and veteran-owned small businesses in every phase of its construction and operation.”

The Portsmouth casino will be located along Interstate 264 in an area the city plans to market as its entertainment district. Rush Street Gaming will also pay an additional $10 million to Portsmouth for acreage located on Victory Boulevard in Portsmouth.

The Rush Street Project alone is anticipated to generate $16.3 million in annual tax revenue for Portsmouth and $260 million in annual regional GDP. The Portsmouth EDA anticipates that the casino will create 1,400 construction jobs, 2,000 permanent jobs — and $62 million annually in wages, salaries and tips.

Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation in 2020 allowing five economically challenged cities to open casinos. Voters in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth overwhelmingly approved casinos in referendums held during the November 2020 elections. Richmond plans to hold a casino referendum in November 2021.

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