Bristol Hard Rock Casino Timeline Pushed Back With New Regulations

Posted on July 23, 2021

The Virginia Lottery Board held its quarterly meeting on Wednesday to approve permanent casino regulations for the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Bristol, VA.

The proposed regulations received unanimous approval, and the decision could delay the casino’s original timeline by a year or more.

Regulations delay Bristol Hard Rock Casino timeline

Now that the Lottery has rubber stamped permanent regulations, Virginia’s four proposed casinos can apply for official casino licensing. These casinos will be located in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.

An assembly of 22 licensing investigators will then thoroughly dissect each operator’s application before approval.

When speaking of the permanent regulations, Robert Fontaine, the Virginia Lottery’s deputy general counsel, said:

“In terms of one of the most important things we did this time around, there are more details for in-person sports betting, and there is more information on local casino gaming that takes place within the casino proper itself. Enough to get by, but better to have a little bit more meat on that set of regulations.”

Now that the Virginia Lottery has greenlit these final rules, the governor must give his stamp of approval. A slight hiccup exists, however, in that a new governor transitions into the role at the beginning of the year.

Virginia Lottery General Counsel Amy Dilworth commented on the shift:

“There will be an administration change in mid-January when the new Governor will come in and I’m hoping that the process will remain smooth and not be too disrupted. I can’t predict exactly how long it will take because there’s a new Governor, it’s during General Assembly session and the Governor does not have a deadline.”

All of this change means the Hard Rock’s goal to open in 2021 likely won’t happen.

Casinos eyeing 2022 launch date

After the governor approves, the regulations will open up to public scrutiny during a 60-day comment period. The board anticipates receiving final regulatory approval in May 2022.

However, Hard Rock originally planned on opening a temporary casino in 2021. This new regulatory timeline suggests a temporary Bristol casino won’t open until the end of 2022 at the absolute earliest.

A spokesperson for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Bristol, Andy Poarch of the Alliance Group, says the casino remains focused on a swift launch.

“We remain committed to opening the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol as soon as possible. We will be ready to move forward as soon as we receive all the required approvals from the Virginia Lottery. We are actively engaged in ongoing local efforts to prepare for opening a resort that will bring thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in additional tax revenue to Bristol.”

Residents around Bristol are eager to see this project to completion.

As far as casinos near Tennessee, it will be a welcome addition to those just across the Virginia border. Once open, Hard Rock Bristol will serve as the closest casino location for thousands of East Tennessee residents.

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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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