Bristol, one of the five locations touted to house a casino-type resort along the state line in Virginia, received only one application regarding its request for information (RFI) issued April 15. Candidates willing to partner city officials in the development of a casino had until Friday, May 8, to submit the requested information and only Hard Rock International applied.
Amended Bill Passed
The lawmakers in Virginia passed the required bill to authorize five of its cities to host casinos, pending referendum approval by the city residents and then moved the bill to the office of St. Gov. Ralph Northam to sign into law. Instead of putting his signature on the bill, the governor decided to introduce amendments into it himself and return the amended bill to the legislature for approval.
Last month, both chambers of the state legislature approved the proposed by St. Gov. Northam amendments, paving the way for Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond, besides Bristol, to allow the construction of casinos, pending public vote approval.
Hard Rock the Only Casino Candidate
Despite having only Hard Rock’s response to their RFI, city officials in Bristol have not made an official announcement regarding their choice of casino developer yet, May 26 set as the date to do that, giving enough time for the city Council to review whether the Florida-based casino and hospitality operator meets all the requirements to be selected to construct the casino.
Hard Rock intends, provided that a casino license has been granted, to build a full-scale hotel and casino at the vacant Bristol Mall. The complex will also feature dining outlets, retail space and performance venues, as well as pools and spa into the hotel part, and is estimated to attract more than 4 million visitors annually, most of which from out of state.
Hard Rock projects that the new casino resort property will generate during its first year of operations around 2,000 new jobs, the number of total jobs for the first seven years to exceed 5,200. Total economic impact from the new gaming facility will be in excess of $1 billion, going up to $4.5 billion for the first 5 years of operation, Hard Rock predicts.
Tax proceeds from the gaming activity, expected to be over $26 million for the first year alone, will be assigned, as per St. Gov. Northam’s amendments, to fund public school construction projects in Virginia.
Even if approved by Bristol officials, Hard Rock will have to wait for the final verdict for another 6 months, since referendum in Bristol can be held at the earliest November 3.