On January 8 in Portsmouth, Senator Louise Lucas’ addressed approximately 30 members of the Hampton Roads Chamber’s Portsmouth Board to discuss casino legislation. Senator Lucas introduced the legislation for the 2014 General Assembly session to legalize casino gaming in the city of Portsmouth.
Greg Grootendorst, HRTPO/HRPDC Chief Economist and primary author of the HRTPO Casino Study, spoke on the subject and noted what the criteria would be for Portsmouth to become a profitable destination market. Grootendorst said, “To become a destination market that would mean that at least 50 percent of the people coming to your casino are from outside your region.”
Grootendorst spoke in length about the positives and negatives his study found in regards to bringing the gaming industry to Hampton Roads. In regards to the gaming industry and a possible casino opening Grootendorst’s study concluded, “There is no doubt that this is a revenue generator.”
After Grootendorst concluded his finding on the potential impacts of the gaming industry Senator Louise Lucas spoke. She wants to create a state commission to license and regulate casinos. Lucas admitted that when she wants to spend her money at a casino she drives all the way to Maryland to spend her money and speculated, “Why not consider doing what other states have already done and change our own destiny and keep some of our money right here at home?”
Lucas talked about what could be done with the money earned from potential casinos in the area and said, “We are spending 350 million dollars of our own revenue in other states. With that money we could bring down the real estate tax and we could buy down the tolls.”
Some of the business owners think that the approval of the legislation would be good for business in the Portsmouth area. Brent Miller, kitchen manager of Roger Brown's Restaurant and Sports Bar, told WVEC ABC13, "It wouldn't hurt us at all. It would bring in late business."