The Virginia Lottery Board has pre-certified the casino and hospitality company Hard Rock International and two local partners to build and run a casino in the Virginia town of Bristol, Virginia.
Hard Rock was chosen as the preferred developer of the first casino in the city earlier this year. The future of the company’s plan to build a gambling complex in Bristol now rests with urban voters, however.
Hard Rock being pre-certified is the latest series of hurdles that the company needs to overcome in the coming months if it wants to get a final green light in Virginia to expand. This new approval paves the way for Bristol to hold a citywide referendum on November 3, during which voters will be able to express their opinion about whether a gambling venue should be hosting the city.
After the Virginia Lottery Board’s review of Hard Rock ‘s plan has been completed, the Bristol City Council now needs to pass a resolution demanding that the Circuit Court order a November casino referendum. It is hoped Council members will act on this coming Tuesday.
The proposed casino development at Bristol is part of a larger gambling expansion effort approved earlier this year by Virginia lawmakers. Legislators passed a bill authorising the development of Las Vegas-style casinos with slot machines and table games to help them boost their economies in five cash-strapped cities.
Commenting on the approval of their application for pre-certification, Hard Rock’s Bristol team said in a statement that they appreciate the work of the Virginia Lottery Board and that they are now looking forward to the November referendum when voters “have a historic opportunity to vote yes for the thousands of new, good-paying jobs and millions of dollars in additional tax revenue that the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol will bring to the city.”
The statement further read that the Hard Rock project “will provide Bristol with critically needed new funding for our schools, teachers, and first responders, all while growing the economy both here in the city and all across the region.”
Hard Rock ‘s proposal includes a casino with up to 2,700 slot machines, 100 table games and a sportsbook, a hotel with up to 750 rooms and suites, seven restaurants, four bars, 30,000 square feet of retail space, 50,000 square feet of meeting and conference facilities, an indoor entertainment venue with 3,200 seats and an outdoor entertainment venue with capacity for 20,000 people.
Hard Rock said his resort would be “a catalyst for the entire region” and that it will serve more than 4 million tourists a year that will be coming to Bristol to enjoy the city’s “outdoor beauty” and “visit the many wonderful entertainment, cultural, and recreational attractions across Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.”