Hard Rock International has been pre-certified by the Virginia Lottery to develop and operate a casino in Bristol, Virginia. The Board of the Virginia Lottery approved the casino operator during its quarterly meeting, July 15, held through electronic communication means.
City Casinos Along the Stateline
Hard Rock International was the sole candidate to build a casino in Bristol, one of five cities approved to host land-based gaming facilities alongside the stateline in Virginia. Earlier this year, the state legislature passed a bill to approve Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond, besides Bristol, to be allowed to develop casinos, in an effort to provide another source of revenue for the cities’ empty coffers, with the final decision resting on local public votes. The approval granted by the Virginia Lottery Board now paved the way for a city-wide referendum to be conducted as early as November 3.
The casino project presented by Hard Rock envisaged a full-scale hotel and casino at the vacant Bristol Mall, restaurants and other fine dining outlets, space for retailers, a convention center and a concert hall, as well as pools and spa inside the hotel part. With expectations of more than 4 million visitors annually, Hard Rock projected its new casino resort property to generate 2,000 new jobs, and have a total economic impact in excess of $1 billion annually, going up to $4.5 billion for the first 5 years of operations.
Casino Fate in the Hands of the People
Having received the detailed report from the casino operator, the City Council subjected the project to a public hearing in May and received mostly positive feedback. Now, having the Virginia Lottery approval, the Bristol City Council has cleared the way for the adoption of a resolution that needs to be presented to the Circuit Court, asking the court to order the casino vote for November, with the council members expected to come up with the resolution during the upcoming week.
A statement from the Hard Rock Bristol team expressed appreciation towards the work of the Virginia Lottery, stating that now all eyes are on the people of Bristol and the November referendum. Hard Rock pointed out the public vote would be a historical opportunity for locals to elect for the creation of the thousands of new jobs and the millions of additional tax revenue the project will bring to the city, money critical for schools, teachers and first responders, as for the growing economy of the city, so for the development of the entire region.
Judging by the public support the casino project received during the City Council hearing, Hard Rock should not have problems getting the yes vote from Bristol residents in the upcoming referendum.