Planning for Hard Rock Casino and Resort Bristol began in 2018. Now, following a successful casino referendum on Nov. 3, 2020, Bristol voters formally approved the development.
Among the four Virginia cities with a casino referendum in 2020, Bristol had the most lopsided voting results with 69% for the casino and just 31% against it.
In late 2019, Bristol officials selected Hard Rock International as its preferred casino partner. Hard Rock, a global entertainment and hospitality company, is the perfect partner to help celebrate the area’s rich country music history while also revitalizing the local economy.
The resort is slated for an opening in late 2022. However, a smaller, scaled-down temporary casino is expected to open before then, most likely in the spring of 2022, as a precursor to the full resort.
The estimated $400 million Hard Rock Casino Resort Bristol project will turn the former Bristol Mall into a world-class casino resort destination. Moreover, it puts the casino within walking distance of the Tennessee state line. The neighboring state has no casinos of its own.
Hard Rock Bristol will feature:
Tentative Bristol Mall remodeling plans include:
The Bristol Casino and Resort team submitted Hard Rock International as its preferred casino partner to the Virginia Lottery after receiving approval from the Bristol City Council. There are several more steps before renovations on the former mall space can begin.
Here is a brief timeline of events.
Aug. 14: The last day for ordering the referendum for the General Election
Nov. 3: General Election
Early December: Bristol Casino election results certified by the Secretary of State
April 2021: Officials at Hard Rock Bristol can apply for its operator license
Within one year of application: The Virginia Lottery approves Hard Rock for casino gambling in Virginia.
Late 2021: Potential opening of a temporary Hard Rock Bristol casino at the former Bristol Mall site.
Late 2022: Targeted opening of the full Hard Rock Bristol resort
The biggest benefits a new casino brings to the City of Bristol are tax revenue and jobs.
The Bristol casino project estimates it will create 2,000 new jobs during its first year. Within seven years, the number of jobs will increase to 5,200. Those jobs come with an annual average salary of $46,500, well above the reported $37,844 average currently for the area.
The economic impact of more than 4 million visitors to Bristol and Southwest Virginia is said to exceed $1 billion each year.
The casino projects $150 million in revenues during its first year and $450 million per year by Year 5. Other revenues, such as food, beverage, and retail, are estimated to be around $106 million in the first year and eventually settling around $289 million per year.
Hard Rock Bristol will contribute $26.8 million to the city of Bristol after Year 5. To put that figure in perspective, the current operating budget for the City of Bristol is $53.9 million.
Bristol is known as the Twin City because it lies on the state line between Tennessee and Virginia, a distinction that will serve as an advantage for the new casino resort.
A casino in the southern part of Virginia is destined to become a regional destination for visitors from several states, including:
The Hard Rock Bristol Hotel and Casino team estimates 80% of its guests will come from out of state. The influx of new tourism dollars and keeping local casino customers gambling near home will greatly benefit Bristol and the state.
Hard Rock, with its entertainment heritage, is the perfect partner for the Twin City. In 1998, Congress declared Bristol as the birthplace of country music.
Hard Rock is a company that thrives on infusing music into everything it touches. It brings personalized musical experiences to its properties with its rhythm spas and motions, DJ therapy, yoga, live performances in lobbies, bars, cafes, concerts, and dance performances.
In a statement following the partnership announcement, Hard Rock gave a nod to the importance of music to the area.
“The Hard Rock Casino Bristol will honor the region’s heritage as the birthplace of country music. As an entertainment destination, we plan to offer restaurants and shops new to the region, large indoor and outdoor music venues and a convention center.”
Voters headed to the polls on Nov. 3, 2020, and successfully passed a referendum to legalize casino gambling in Bristol.
Applications for a casino license will not open until April 2021, and it could take up to one year for the casino to receive approval. However, officials are moving forward on a plan to open a temporary casino in late 2021 and the full resort by late 2022.
Casino customers can expect games similar to those found at any major casino, including slots, tables games and poker.
Company officials said they plan for the casino to include a sportsbook.