Virginia Casinos Take Advantage Of Hungry Market With Temporary Facilities

Written By T.J. McBride on July 26, 2023
Bristol Virginia is under construction, but a temporary tent houses operations now.

The choice of two Virginia casino operators to open in temporary gambling facilities has led to tens of millions in additional revenue for each operator and millions for the state.

The first of three Virginia casinos opened just over a year ago, making it an extremely young market. To crack that lucrative industry, operators did not want to wait until they could construct a permanent facility to begin operations.

Hard Rock Bristol and Caesars Virginia invested in temporary facilities and opened their doors as quickly as possible.

Casinos cashing in during construction of permanent facilities

Virginia should have five retail casinos in operation by 2025, but there are no efforts currently underway to add online casino gambling in the Commonwealth. That might change when all five are operating permanent facilities in Virginia.

Neither HR Bristol nor Caesars Danville Casino will unveil their permanent resorts this year, but both are thriving in their temporary locations.

In May, Virginia casinos had another strong month, as all three combined to generate over $52 million in adjusted gross revenue (AGR). Of that total, 60% came from temporary casinos. The Virginia casino market is young and still growing, but a solid foundation is already being built.

HR Bristol was the first Virginia casino to open its doors when it unveiled its temporary facility at the former Bristol Mall on July 8, 2022. On May 15 this year, Caesars Virginia opened its doors at a temporary facility in Danville.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth was the lone business to open its permanent space. It did so on Jan. 23. It has already established itself as a gambling destination and welcomed its one millionth guest this summer.

HR Bristol is expected to open its permanent casino in July 2024. The casino will reportedly cost $500 million and will house 2,700 slot machines, 100 table games and a sportsbook. For now, its temporary location is open with 928 slot machines and 29 table games.

The permanent Caesars casino is expected to open in late 2024. When finished, the space will have a casino, hotel and entertainment center. The casino will be home to 1,300 slot machines, 85 table games, a poker room and a Caesars VA sportsbook. Until Caesars is completed, the temporary casino in Danville has 768 slot machines and 25 table games for guests to place wagers.

Tent casinos not ideal, but market is strong and jobs have been created

If Caesars and HR Bristol had decided to wait until their casinos were built to start taking wagers, over $190 million in AGR might have been lost. This would have resulted in $34 million less for the state in tax money.

Since opening its temporary facility 12 months ago, HR Bristol has generated over $162.6 million in AGR. In that time, it has contributed over $28 million in tax money.

Caesars has been active for just over two months. Already, it has generated nearly $31 million in AGR and contributed $5.5 million in tax money.

In addition to generating revenue, the temporary casinos are creating jobs. At Caesars, about 415 people have been hired. Many of them are local, with 75% of the employees from Virginia and half from Danville.

General Manager Chris Albrecht says people are realizing that the temporary casino is a desirable place to work:

“Our wages and rates being very strong, healthy in the region, and now that word has spread what a table games dealer can make, what a slot attendant can make, we’re getting just a tremendous amount of output of interest in roles right now.”

Photo by Caesars Virginia/Twitter
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T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver. He is a Nuggets beat writer and also covers the regulated gambling industry across the U.S. His byline can be seen at ESPN, FiveThirtyEight, Bleacher Report and more.

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