Hard Rock Casino and Resort Bristol

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.

Hard Rock Casino Resort Bristol

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:

  • 350-room hotel that will eventually expand to 700 rooms
  • 100,000-square-foot casino and sportsbook
  • 50,000-square-foot conference and meeting center
  • Live-music venue
  • Amphitheater
  • Restaurants, bars and retail shops
  • Spa and pool

Tentative Bristol Mall remodeling plans include:

  • The casino will be located in the former Sears retail space.
  • The hotel will be constructed where the rear parking lot currently sits.
  • The conference center will be where J.C. Penney was formerly located.
  • The indoor entertainment venue will be where Piccadilly Cafeteria formerly operated within the mall.
  • The outdoor amphitheater, which could accommodate up to 20,000 attendees, will be built on currently undeveloped land near the west side of the property.
  • An employee training facility and other attractions will be situated in the former Belk location. It could also host a temporary casino that could open sometime in early 2022 before the full resort is constructed.

Bristol casino launch timeline

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 economic impact of Hard Rock Bristol

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.

Hard Rock Casino Resorts Bristol as a destination

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:

  • Tennessee
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky

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.

Bristol Casino and Resort

Celebrating Bristol’s music heritage

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.”

Bristol Casino Resort FAQs

When was the vote on the Bristol Casino project?

Voters headed to the polls on Nov. 3, 2020, and successfully passed a referendum to legalize casino gambling in Bristol.

When will Bristol Casino Resort open?

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.

What type of casino games will the new Hard Rock casino have?

Casino customers can expect games similar to those found at any major casino, including slots, tables games and poker.

Will Hard Rock Bristol have sports betting?

Company officials said they plan for the casino to include a sportsbook.