Virginia Could See Casino Earlier Than Expected

Virginia is one of the states that will be joining the growing casino industry, but casinos weren’t expected to be open until late in 2021 or early 2022. News circulated on Thursday that Hard Rock International was looking to expedite the timeline.

According to sources, Hard Rock International is pursuing a temporary gaming license to launch a casino at a temporary location. The Seminole Tribe of Florida owns Hard Rock International, and they won a bid to build a casino in Bristol, Va.

Hard Rock is hoping to set up a temporary casino at abandoned Bristol Mall, and this will be where they train their new casino employees. The temporary location would be open to the public while the construction of the new resort takes place.

The Seminole Tribe and local developers have committed to a $400 million renovation project at the Bristol Mall, and they will turn the property into a massive casino resort complex. The project calls for a 750-room hotel to be built on the property as well as an entertainment venue that can host more than 20,000 guests.

Hard Rock was the only company that submitted a bid to the Bristol City Council by the May 8 deadline, and they were awarded the project. Local businessmen, Clyde Stacy and Jim McGlothlin, were also part of the presentation.

The Virginia Lottery would have to approve of issuing a temporary license, and it is unclear when the property would open. If a temporary license was granted, it is reasonable to expect it to be open later this year.

New Gaming Laws in Effect on July 1

July 1 marks the first official day of a new fiscal year, and new gaming laws are set to go in effect. The state legislature approved casino gaming in Virginia for the first time and awarded five cities with casino licenses.

Briston was one of the five, with the other four communities being Danville, Richmond, Norfolk, and Portsmouth. All of the cities will have to pass a local referendum before any of the casinos can break ground and begin building.

Sports betting was also legalized in Virginia earlier this year, and the Virginia Lottery will be the new industry’s regulatory body. The lottery can issue up to 12 sports betting licenses, and applications are expected to be numerous.

Sportsbooks can offer betting on both professional and collegiate sporting events with one exception. Games featuring collegiate teams from Virginia, or collegiate events taking place in Virginia cannot be offered.

Governor Ralph Northam was in favor of both of these measures, but he differed with lawmakers when it came to banning “gray machines.” Governor Northam agreed to let these machines continue to operate for one more year, with all of the money coming from the machines going to fund COVID-19 relief efforts.

Hard Rock is Busy Expanding

Even though Hard Rock International is based out of Florida, the company has seen tremendous growth throughout the country over the last 12 months. Hard Rock International recently purchased the Hard Rock brand out of Nevada, but that was just one of their many moves.

The Indiana Gaming Commission recently approved a casino license in Terre Haute that has been awarded to Hard Rock International. The company will put up $120 million to build a brand new casino in the western portion of the state.

Officials in Rockford, Ill., also chose Hard Rock to be their operating partner, and this could lead to another huge investment. The Illinois Gaming Board has yet to approve the application from Hard Rock, but it is expected to happen.


Our in-house expert for all things regulation, Jackson covers all major recent developments across US states relating to gambling laws & legislation.