Hard Rock Bristol Temporary Casino: Taking Bets Before Summer Arrives?

Posted on February 7, 2022

A temporary casino that will eventually become a full-fledged Virginia casino should open before summer arrives.

In fact, it’d also become the first casino in Virginia.

Hard Rock Casino and Resort Bristol will eventually be a sprawling $400 million attraction located on the Virginia-Tennessee border.

First, though, Hard Rock officials are building and plan to open a temporary casino in the next few months.

Temporary casino the latest step for busy Hard Rock officials

Although casinos in Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth are also underway with openings as soon as next year, Hard Rock Bristol long planned to be first.

Officials had talked about a temporary casino even before voters formally (and overwhelmingly) voted in favor of the project. In fact, their initial target date was late 2021.

Now, during its latest hiring/vendor events, officials confirmed the temporary casino could open in late May or June. An obvious target, of course, is the vacation-centric Memorial Day weekend of May 28-30. Virginia Lottery Board officials, who oversee casino gambling in the state, previously said Hard Rock could, in fact, receive a gaming license in time for that ambitious target date.

Part of that quick launch is due to simple desire and effort from company officials. But the project also benefits from some logistical advantages that other Virginia casino sites don’t.

Hard Rock Bristol will be built on and actually incorporate foundational elements from the former Bristol Mall property. Developers intentionally designed the new property to take advantage of existing infrastructure when possible.

As a result, Hard Rock Bristol officials are also in a bit of a hiring spree while they prep for the temporary casino.

As Chief Operating Officer at Hard Rock International Jon Lucas told WJHL.com:

“We’ll start a dealer’s training school in a few weeks and so that’s a six-week process. We’re looking for dealers, we’re looking for security folks, looking for surveillance folks and laying the groundwork and foundation for all the other positions in hospitality.”

When will full Hard Rock Bristol open?

In all, Hard Rock expects to hire about 300 people for the opening of the temporary casino.

The temporary resort will be called “Bristol Casino, future home of Hard Rock” and will be a preview of what’s to come. The initial opening, though, will include a key attraction: the Hard Rock Sportsbook.

The full resort with all of the amenities and attractions, including a hotel and Hard Rock Live entertainment center, will then open in 2024. Construction will continue outside of the temporary casino for that 2024 grand opening.

At that point, officials expect to hire 1,500 to 2,000 full-time employees in all.

What can patrons expect with the temporary casino?

As Lucas told laid out in a chat with the Bristol Herald Courier:

“The temporary will have a sit-down restaurant of 200 seats. We’ll have a grab-and-go, which will have about 30 seats. We’ll have a sports bar with sports betting, and the sports bar will serve food as well. Plans currently call for about 875 slot machines and 22 table games. The space will include a separate non-smoking area with a separate entrance. There will be a high limit area with slots and tables and our player’s club, a retail shop and ample parking.”

Photo by Shutterstock / REDPIXEL.PL
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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN, MLB.com and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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