Evaluation Period Begins for Virginia Casino Projects

The Virginia Lottery Board is now ready to accept applications for a gaming license in four cities: Bristol, Norfolk, Danville, and Portsmouth. Voters approved each city last year for casino gaming and now it's time for proposals to be considered.

Evaluation Time

Voter-approved casino operators must now undergo a full evaluation to ensure that everyone associated with the project is capable of holding a gaming operator license. Financials will be evaluated along with a criminal background check conducted regarding the owner of the license, managers of the company, principal operators, and gaming employees.

In the past, lottery officials said it would take through 2022 to see approvals provided. The process seems to be running in line with this original timeline. Back in February, the Board of the Lottery approved preliminary regulations for casino operators. The Board is expected to hear proposed permanent regulations this week.

After that, a review process will follow, and regulations need to be finalized by September of next year to be effective the next month. An operator license will be good for a decade and have a $15 million price tag.

Each background investigation completed for the company will require a $50,000 fee. The more people that are reviewed, the higher price tag for the company seeking licensing. Hard Rock International has started the application process to create a casino in Bristol.

The team of Hard Rock is working with the Lottery to complete the licensing process. The brand is excited to get the ball rolling and help the local economy by bringing in new jobs and tax revenues. The project has a $400 million price tag and includes a 100,000 square foot casino. The property will include a hotel with 300 guest rooms, indoor and outdoor entertainment options, retail shopping, and more.

More Projects Underway

There are three other projects that are underway in Virginia. The Rivers Casino Portsmouth is currently working to find employees for its new venue. A job fair was recently hosted by the brand in the hopes of filling all available positions. The city approved the project and improvements can begin on the site where the property will be constructed. However, any further work cannot begin until the casino project has been approved by the Lottery.

In Portsmouth, the casino will cost $300 to create and will have a casino and sportsbook, hotel, and conference space. The property will also offer restaurant dining and event venues. Rush Street Gaming is behind the effort.

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe is working on a project in Norfolk, set to create the HeadWaters Resort and Casino. Located at Harbor Park, this property will cost $500 to construct and includes a casino plus hotel with 300 guest rooms. The venue will have a large parking deck for vehicles as well as restaurants and bars.

In Richmond, voters will have their say on a new casino in the capital city by Urban One. The project was recently selected as the one city officials want to go with. In November, voters will get to decide if the project will move forward. Any work is at a standstill until voting takes place.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.