Bristol Hard Rock Casino Progress Seems To Be In Slow Motion

Posted on February 26, 2021

The Virginia Lottery has established what it calls “emergency regulations” for the new Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Bristol.

A temporary casino will be popping up just across the Tennessee border, but it won’t come as soon as expected.

Emergency regulations for Bristol casino

The new emergency regulations permit Hard Rock to conduct gaming within a temporary Bristol casino facility for up to one year.

Details specify that the Bristol city government must first approve the facility. Additionally, the project must not interfere with the construction schedule already established for Hard Rock’s permanent facility.

The directives are based off of industry standards and were created in order to establish a standard of regulations for the state’s casino operators.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam now has the regulations and will review.

New timeline for a temporary Bristol casino

Hard Rock plans to open a short-term casino while the permanent resort is under construction.

The timeline initially forecasted a temporary casino launch by the fourth quarter 2021. The temporary casino will be in the former Belk location of Bristol Mall.

According to Virginia Lottery officials, the likelihood of that is dwindling.

Before any casino can launch, temporary or permanent, the Virginia Lottery must first issue operator, vendor and supplier licenses.

Hard Rock has already received preliminary approval to operate a casino in the state. However, official operator license application forms won’t be available until April.

Then once an application is submitted, the thorough review and approval process can begin.

Long-term plans for a temporary build

Hard Rock ultimately intends to use this temporary area as an employee training center once the permanent casino launches.

Until then, the facility will feature a variety of entertainment, gaming and food options.

The question is, how long will the licensing and construction process take?

Casino progress continues to inch forward

Bristol casino plans have been slowly rolling forward for the better part of a year.

Last November, Virginia residents voted to approve casinos in four jurisdictions:

  • Bristol
  • Danville
  • Norfolk
  • Portsmouth

Various delays and setbacks have resulted in multiple timeline extensions since then.

A permanent facility is still projected to launch by late 2022.

If additional holdups prolong the process, a temporary casino might only launch a few months before Hard Rock’s official grand opening.

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Alec Cunningham

As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. She then returned to her love of written word in 2000 after working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer. As a journalist, she's covered a variety of topics and currently specializes in Tennessee online sports betting and Virginia casino news. She served as a panelist at this year's All American Sports Betting Summit, discussing the ever-evolving role of women in the gambling industry.

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