Bristol, Virginia Businesses Rally For New Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Before City Votes

Posted on September 9, 2020

Supporters of a proposed Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Bristol, Virginia are doubling down on their efforts before the project’s fate falls into the hands of voters during the November election.

Earlier this year, legislation was approved for five large casino resorts to be built throughout the state. Casino projects are slated to break ground in five economically challenged Virginia cities:

  • Danville
  • Bristol
  • Portsmouth
  • Norfolk
  • Richmond

Bristol voters will make a final decision during the November election as to whether the project will move forward in their town. Bristol, Tennessee residents will have to wait and see if a new casino will be just across the border.

‘Vote Yes For Bristol’ forms ‘Small Businesses for Bristol’

Twenty-three of Bristol’s most prominent small businesses have come together to form the “Small Businesses for Bristol” coalition. The coalition includes Bristol small businesses of every variety.

Each of them sees this new casino project as an opportunity to bolster their town’s economy.

The current list of members in the coalition includes:

  • Bristol Chamber of Commerce
  • Cranberry Lane
  • Southern Churn
  • Bristol Station Brews & Tap Room
  • Burger Bar
  • 620 State
  • Southern Craft BBQ-Bristol
  • RPM Offroad and more

“Small Businesses for Bristol” formed under the wing of a pro-casino referendum committee called “Vote Yes For Bristol”. The committee has purchased advertising in addition to sending out mailers and placing signage around town.

By doing so, they hope to encourage voters to vote yes on the proposed casino project.

The first TV ad for the “Vote Yes For Bristol” campaign focuses on the “over 2,000 Bristol jobs” the new casino project will create.

Bristol casino offers economic growth opportunity for city

Gaming enthusiasts are certainly looking forward to a new casino resort in the area. However, the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and local businesses are more excited for the potential economic boost the project will bring.

This is the first major opportunity for economic growth and expansion the city has seen in a long time.

The Bristol, Virginia community has seen years of financial distress. Since the onset of COVID-19, problems have intensified. Due to the pandemic, many businesses have had to lay off staff and close around the area.

In order for the city to generate sustainable growth, the community needs diverse, well-paying jobs. Fortunately, this new casino project promises to offer Bristol the perfect opportunity to thrive.

The casino and resort project will create roughly 2,000 jobs with an average yearly wage of $46,500.

Supporters of the new casino believe it will lead to additional job growth and investment in the region down the line. Hard Rock International has already partnered with local companies like The United Co. and Par Ventures for the project.

Increased tax revenue and tourism for Bristol

This expansive project is estimated to generate the same annual tax revenue as almost half of Bristol’s existing budget.

The city will see a clear increase in resources and funds that can be used to improve important city services if the project is approved.

Proponents feel building a destination resort in Bristol will create an unparalleled surge in tourism around the region. Local businesses expect to see an increase in foot traffic and overall revenue.

Shuttles will run between downtown Bristol and the casino. As a result, downtown dining and retail businesses are expected to flourish.

Bristol Mayor Bill Hartley recently vocalized his support for the project and its potential economic benefits for the city.

Bristol residents have until Nov. 3 to vote

In order for the casino project to move forward, it must go through a few more steps. First, Bristol citizens must approve the casino in a public referendum. Early voting kicks off on Sept. 18 and voting ends on Election Day Nov. 3.

Then, if Bristol voters approve the casino project, the Hard Rock casino group will submit its gaming license application to the Virginia Lottery Board. Lastly, once submitted, the board has a full year to make its decision.

The proposed entertainment venue in Bristol will serve as a casino first and foremost. However, it will also house an entire resort that caters to families, children and people of all ages.

Photo by AP Newsroom
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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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