VA Native, Casino Partner Calls Project A Billion-Dollar ‘Moonshot’ For Bristol

Written By Dann Stupp on August 27, 2020 - Last Updated on August 2, 2023

A partner in the Bristol casino project planned for Virginia thinks it could have a billion-dollar payoff.

Jim McGlothlin is a native of southwest Virginia and the CEO of The United Company. He’s also the founding partner of Hard Rock Resort and Casino Bristol.

Voters can green-light the proposed $400 million casino project during the general election on Nov. 3. It’s one of five potential casinos that could open in Virginia.

In a lengthy social media post, McGlothlin implored voters to vote yes on the referendum. He argued the Virginia casino could revive the struggling economy of the city, which is near the Tennessee border.

“It will bring billions in related economic development to our region,” McGlothlin wrote.

He called it a “homegrown version of a ‘moonshot.’”

Hard Rock Bristol’s impact

McGlothlin has strong ties to the region. The 80-year-old got his education in Virginia. He practiced law here. He also became an energy, construction and golf tycoon.

His former schoolmate and current partner, fellow businessman Clyde Stacy, also has local ties. They’ve both long maintained that this project is personal.

Here is McGlothlin’s >full letter:


In addition to Bristol, Virginia could also soon have casinos in Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond.

The Virginia General Assembly legalized casino gambling in April. Now, each city has to clear a voter referendum during the general election on Nov. 3.

All of the cities were chosen because of their recent struggles with tax revenue, unemployment, poverty rate and population decrease.

In fact, on Wednesday, Bristol Mayor Bill Hartley stressed the potential economic impact of the casino project. It came during the eighth annual “State of the Cities” event with neighboring Bristol, Tenn.

About the Bristol casino

The Bristol casino would be built on the former site of the currently vacant Bristol Mall.

It’d feature a 100,000-square-foot casino, a 100,000-square-foot conference center, a 25,000-square-foot sportsbook, 600 hotel rooms, and 50 restaurants and retail shops.

McGlothlin and Stacy say the project would employ more than 2,000 people with an average salary of $46,500.

The other potential benefits are massive, as McGlothlin wrote:

“It will generate annual tax revenue equivalent to nearly half of our city’s existing budget. It’ll bring billions in related economic development to our budget. It will bring billions in related economic to our region. And 4 million people – 80% for them from outside our region – will visit every year.

Bristol was Nashville before Nashville

If it opens, expect Hard Rock Bristol to honor the city’s rich music history.

In fact, McGlothlin referred to Bristol as the “true” birthplace of country music.

The city features the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, after all. It primarily honors the iconic 1927 Bristol Sessions, which sparked the nationwide emergence of country music.

Bristol borders Tennessee, home to another country music haven: Nashville.

However, with its rich history and the possibility of a casino resort on deck, Bristol could give “Music City” a run for tourists’ dollars.

Dann Stupp Avatar
Written by
Dann Stupp

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

View all posts by Dann Stupp