Gaming and hospitality giant Hard Rock International will seek a license to operate a temporary casino in the Virginia city of Bristol while its planned main gaming resort is under development, news emerged this week.
The temporary facility will be located within the former Bristol Mall, which has also been selected as the site of the future Hard Rock Bristol casino-hotel.
News that Hard Rock will apply for a temporary gaming license emerge after the Bristol City Council late last month selected the Florida-based casino and hospitality operator as the preferred developer of the city’s first Las Vegas-style gaming property.
Last month’s selection process was only a formality since Hard Rock was actually the only company to respond to Bristol’s request for casino plan submissions, and city leaders expressed their support for the operator’s project months ago when it was first presented.
Details about Hard Rock’s temporary casino in Bristol are yet to be released as, despite last month’s approval from the City Council, the company still has a long way ahead before being able to operate a gambling venue in the city.
Bristol officials have submitted Hard Rock’s plan to the Virginia Lottery Board for review and approval. The City Council will then have to approve a resolution asking the Circuit Court to order a November casino referendum.
Fate of Casino Lies with Bristol Residents
The fate of Bristol’s planned casino will eventually be determined at a citywide referendum on November 3. The project received overwhelmingly positive feedback during a public hearing that took place in May. However, it is yet to be seen whether residents will vote to have a gambling venue within city limits.
Under a casino expansion reform approved by Virginia lawmakers earlier this year, Bristol was one of five cash-strapped cities that were given the green light to host casinos in a bid to boost their economies. However, none of these cities can have a gambling venue without voters’ specific approval.
Hard Rock told City Councilors that its casino will initially feature 1,500 slot machines that could be expanded to up to 2,700 gaming devices, depending on demand. Its casino floor will also include 100 table games and a sportsbook.
As mentioned earlier, the property will be located at the site of the former Bristol Mall. Hard Rock’s Bristol complex will also include a 300-room hotel that could be expanded to up to 750 rooms, seven restaurants, four bars, 30,000 square feet of retail space, 50,000 square feet of meeting and convention facilities, a 3,200-seat indoor entertainment venue, and an outdoor entertainment venue with capacity for 20,000 people.
Hard Rock said that its resort would be “a catalyst for the entire region, helping to create jobs at local businesses that will serve the 4 million tourists a year coming to Bristol to enjoy our outdoor beauty and visit the many wonderful entertainment, cultural, and recreational attractions across Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.”