Portsmouth Renaming Street Near Casino After Lawmaker Who Championed Gaming

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Local government officials in Portsmouth, Va., are renaming a street near the city’s casino in recognition of the state lawmaker who championed the push to bring slot machines, table games, and sports betting to the commonwealth.

Virginia Sen. L. Louise Lucas is being recognized in her Portsmouth hometown with a street named in her honor. L. Louise Lucas Dr. will be located near Rivers Casino Portsmouth. (Image: AP)

No lawmaker in the Richmond capital has been more supportive of casino gambling over the years than state Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth). The trailblazer — Virginia’s first woman and Black lawmaker to hold the office of Senate president pro tempore — was the lead author of the 2020 statute that authorized casinos in certain cities, including Portsmouth. It’s garnered her the nickname of Virginia’s “casino lady.” 

Lucas said it was long her desire to place a casino in the Hampton Roads region. The 2020 legislation, Senate Bill 36, accomplished that goal. Along with Portsmouth, the gaming package allows a casino in nearby Norfolk.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth in January 2023 made history by becoming the first permanent casino to open in Virginia. The $340 million property owned by Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming won nearly a quarter of a billion dollars from players in its first year and generated in more than $15 million in local tax revenue for Portsmouth.

Street Honors

The Portsmouth City Council last week unanimously approved a motion to rename a small stretch of road measuring about two-tenths of a mile near the Rivers Casino. The road is presently named TCC Dr. because it is the main entrance to Tidewater Community College.

The street will soon be renamed L. Louise Lucas Drive. The state lawmaker abbreviates her first name, Lillie.

Portsmouth is the home of my birth and I am truly humbled by the street named in my honor. Especially at that location — it took 20 years to get legislation passed to bring the first casino in Virginia to my hometown,” Lucas wrote on X.

Lucas added to The Virginian-Pilot that she’s “ecstatic” because “there’s no greater honor than to be honored in your hometown.”

After passing the main entrance to the community college, TCC Dr. reaches Freedom Avenue and the primary entrance to the Rivers Casino.

Portsmouth officials have been on a street-naming spree, as it was only in 2022 that they renamed a road after rap superstar Missy Elliott. A Portsmouth native, Missy Elliott Blvd. also surrounds the Rivers Casino complex.

Lucas Backstory

Naming a street after the city’s longtime state lawmaker is most warranted, city officials said. They cited Lucas’ long commitment to bettering Portsmouth and the Hampton Roads region and her being a “pillar” of the community.

“Not only is she Portsmouth history, not only is she Black history, but she is the Commonwealth of Virginia history,” declared Portsmouth City Councilor Vernon Tillage. “I know people have many different political opinions, but to put all those things aside, this woman has overcome and she has transcended.”

Along with being the first female and Black person to serve as president pro tempore in the Virginia Senate, Lucas was the first Black woman to sit on the Portsmouth City Council when she was elected to the local government in 1984. Lucas successfully pursued state office by way of the Senate and has kept her seat there since January 1992.

Before her political career, Lucas attended Norfolk State University where she obtained Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees with a concentration on Human Resources Planning and Administration. She worked at Old Dominion University and Norfolk State before entering politics.

Lucas’ name is also on the Lucas Lodge, which assists adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. Lucas serves as the Lodge’s executive director.

The post Portsmouth Renaming Street Near Casino After Lawmaker Who Championed Gaming appeared first on Casino.org.



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