Virginia’s casino gaming revenue received a 28% boost in May with the opening of Caesars’ new temporary Danville Casino.
The Virginia Lottery Board approved a casino license for Caesars Virginia in April and the temporary facility in Danville, Va., opened to the public on May 15.
With three casinos now operating in the commonwealth, May’s adjusted gross revenue (AGR) came in at $45 million, up 28.6% from April ($35 million), according to the Virginia Lottery’s monthly report released Thursday.
More On Temporary Caesars Danville Casino
The new temporary Danville Casino has 768 slot machines, 25 table games, kiosks for Caesars Sportsbook and one small restaurant called Three Stacks that serves classic American food and drinks. The 40,000-square-foot temporary facility is the Future Home of Caesars Virginia, a massive $650-million permanent resort slated to open in late 2024.
The casino falls under the same corporate umbrella as the Caesars Sportsbook VA.
Danville Casino didn’t fall far behind Bristol Casino in May for reported AGR. Bristol Casino earned an AGR of $13 million for the month with Caesars coming in at $12 million. Bristol Casino was the first casino to open in Virginia in July 2022 after receiving a license from the Virginia Lottery in April 2022.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth earned the lead for the month of May, reporting $21 million in AGR.
With the addition of Danville Casino, and based on the Virginia Lottery’s May report, there are now 3,105 slot machines operating in the state. These slot machines generated $35 million in AGR for the month, up 39.6% from the $25 million in the April Virginia casino revenue report.
Slots Still More Popular Option
Slot machines at Rivers Casino Portsmouth generated the lion’s share of AGR in May, reporting $13.86 million, up 0.26% from April ($13.82 million). Rivers Casino operates 1,416 slot machines compared to 921 at Bristol Casino and 768 at Danville Casino.
But casino slot machines are the new kid on the block for Virginia.
The state also collects tax revenue from 2,607 Historical Horse Racing (HHR) machines that started operating in the commonwealth in 2019. In April, HHR machines operating at six Rosie’s Gaming Emporium locations in the state handled over $367 million in bets.
Casino table games at Bristol, Portsmouth and Danville generated an AGR of $10,401,168.80 million in May, up 1.5% from April ($10,250,276.95).
Table games at Danville Casino gained the lowest AGR overall for the month at $1.7 million.
The three casinos combined paid $8 million in taxes to the state from their May AGR, up 28.6% from April ($6 million).
The state continues to promote casino gambling and VA sports betting at an incredible pace with three casinos open and 15 online sportsbooks available to bettors. State lawmakers watch carefully for further tax collection from future casinos and sportsbooks.
Future Casino Development in Virginia
In 2019, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation to allow five casinos in economically challenged cities: Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Richmond. All cities but Richmond passed a casino referendum. Richmond voters rejected the idea of a casino project in 2021.
On Monday, the Richmond City Council cleared the way for the capital to put a second casino referendum up for a vote again in November by approving three pieces of legislation.
Meanwhile, in Norfolk, the Headwaters Resort & Casino, approved by voters in 2020, has experienced a few setbacks in development. Managed by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe Gaming Authority, the project has had to change plans for its casino multiple times.
Status of Pamunkey Project
An effort to place a temporary casino inside Harbor Park baseball stadium was shot down in July 2022, forcing the tribe to select a new location.
A new location was announced in September 2022 between the baseball stadium and an Amtrak train station along Park Avenue. The temporary facility would have been built on the same property where a much larger $500 million permanent casino titled HeadWaters Resort & Casino will stand. The Pamunkey Indian Tribe will own the casino.
It now appears the idea of a temporary casino has been dropped.
On Wednesday, Headwaters announced on its Facebook page that it had submitted a Development Certificate Application to the City of Norfolk to move forward with the “initial facility” of the HeadWaters Resort & Casino.
Company officials submitted new renderings of the casino to a local TV station showing an overall change in the way developers plan to move forward with the buildout.
Jay Smith, a spokesperson for the HeadWaters project, said the idea is now to build the full casino project in two phases, the first of which will operate until Phase 2 is complete. That includes the hotel and improvements to the Elizabeth River shoreline.
In addition, the facility is still waiting for an operator’s license from the Virginia Lottery.
In July 2022, John Thompson, a developer working with the Pamunkey Tribe on the HeadWaters Resort & Casino project, told Norfolk City Council the Virginia Lottery has everything it needs from the company to obtain a license.
“We are still in the licensing phase of the project with the Virginia Lottery,” Thompson said in July 2022. “There are a lot of challenges that we are working through and have worked through.”
Officials hope to open the casino resort this year.