Portsmouth Renames Casino Street After Trailblazing Senator L. Louise Lucas

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In the city of Portsmouth, Virginia, local government officials have announced their plans to rename a street, located near the city’s casino, in honor of a state legislator who played an instrumental role in bringing forth an era of legalized casino gambling. The avenue slated for renaming is stationed in close proximity to the Rivers Casino Portsmouth and will henceforth bear the name L. Louise Lucas Drive, a tribute to the efforts of Virginia Senator L. Louise Lucas.

Lucas, a pioneering figure and trailblazer in Virginia’s political landscape, holds the honor of being the first woman and the first Black person to have served as Senate president pro tempore in the history of the state. Her work was crucial in the passing of the 2020 legislation that gave certain cities, including Portsmouth, the legal authorization to host casinos. This successful endeavor has earned Lucas the popular nickname of Virginia’s “casino lady.”

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From the onset of her career, Lucas harbored a vision of introducing a casino to the Hampton Roads region. The realization of this dream was brought about through the enactment of Senate Bill 36 in 2020. Apart from Portsmouth, the gaming package facilitated by this legislation also allowed for the establishment of a casino in the neighboring city of Norfolk.

In a historic milestone, Rivers Casino Portsmouth, which opened its doors in January 2023, became the first permanent casino in Virginia. This $340 million establishment, operated by Chicago’s Rush Street Gaming, secured an impressive revenue in the tunes of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars during its debut year, and bolstered Portsmouth’s local economy through more than $15 million in tax contributions.

The decision to rename the street was unanimously approved by the Portsmouth City Council last week. The roadway, formerly known as TCC Dr., primarily served as the entrance to Tidewater Community College. As part of the council’s recent surge in street renamings, 2022 saw the christening of a road after rap icon and Portsmouth native, Missy Elliott – Missy Elliott Blvd.

An emotional Lucas, who was born and raised in Portsmouth, shared her deep gratitude for the recognition, expressing her exhilaration and humility over being honored in her hometown. The short stretch of road bearing her name will pass by the main entrance of the community college, eventually leading to the primary entrance of the Rivers Casino.

City officials argue that such recognition is a worthy accolade for Lucas, who has demonstrated a resolute commitment to the betterment of Portsmouth and the Hampton Roads area, making significant strides in her role as a local “pillar” and contributing to the city’s history.

Prior to her political entry in 1984 as a member of the Portsmouth City Council, Lucas achieved an accomplished academic and professional career trajectory, including a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees with a focus on Human Resources Planning and Administration from Norfolk State University. Accompanying her prolific career is a long-standing service as the executive director of the Lucas Lodge, an institution dedicated to aiding adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.

The renaming of the street in her honor is a testament to her relentless drive and an enduring symbol of her outstanding political and social contributions to Virginia, Portsmouth, and beyond.