Virginia Lottery Board Issues First Casino LIcense in the State


  • The Virginia Lottery Board approved the state’s first casino license last week.
  • Casino developer Hard Rock International plans to open the temporary casino site on July 8th at the former Bristol mall site..
  • Bristol is the first of the four Virginia Cities to proceed with its casino project after passing last year’s referendum.

The Virginia Lottery Board has issued the first casino license in the state, paving the way for the opening of the first casino in the state.

With a vote of 7-0, the Board unanimously approved the application of Hard Rock International to move forward with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol project.

Said Hard Rock International chief operating officer John Lucas:

“We are excited by the Virginia Lottery Board’s action today granting a license to open Virginia’s first casino in Bristol subject to the completion of outstanding operational activities. We appreciate the Virginia Lottery’s assistance and diligence in working closely with our team over many months to reach today’s important milestone for Bristol, Southwest Virginia, and the commonwealth.”

The Bristol Casino project has a cost of $400 million and it will include a 300-room hotel, five restaurants, four bars, and a concert venue. It transform the former mall site into a two-story 80,000 to 100,000 square foot casino equipped with 2,700 slot games and 100 tables. The project is expected to be completed by mid-2023 to 2024.

Bristol Casino: The Future Home of Hard Rock

Following the approval of their license, Hard Rock says that they intend to open the temporary casino facility known as Bristol Casino: The Future Home of Hard Rock on July 8th. The temporary facility will have 30,000 square feet of gaming space, 870 slot games, 21 tables, and a sportsbook.

The temporary casino will also have a Hard Rock merchandise store and a display area where the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol permanent casino is showcased. Guests will also have access to a restaurant, a grab-and-go food outlet, a sports bar, and a lounge with live entertainment.

Casino Referendum in Virginia

In a move to boost the struggling economy, the Virginia General Assembly approved in 2020, legislation that allowed developers to build casinos in the cities of Norfolk, Bristol, Portsmouth, Danville, and Richmond. Potential casino operators were subject to a referendum before getting the go-signal. Four got the nod, with the exception of Richmond, whose residents rejected the initiative last year.

The Bristol project is the first to get started. Currently, the Virginia Lottery Board is still in the process of reviewing the application materials for the proposed casinos in Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth. Meanwhile, Richmond city officials have mounted an effort to bring back the casino proposal to a second vote.





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