Hard Rock Bristol Hits Jackpot As Virginia’s First Casino

Written By Matt Boecker on May 2, 2022Last Updated on February 3, 2023

Virginia is about to get its first casino.

The Virginia Lottery Board (VLB) recently voted (7-0) for Virginia to grant its first facilities operator’s license to Hard Rock Bristol.

Board chairman Ferhan Hamid took pride in the thorough job the VLB did to select Hard Rock Bristol as Virginia’s first casino. Hamid feels strongly about the decision he and the other board members made.

As he said in a release:

“Since enacted by the 2020 general assembly, the board’s priority for casino gaming in the Commonwealth is that it be conducted with integrity and in a responsible manner. Today’s approval reflects the confidence we have in the rigorous and conscientious review conducted by Virginia Lottery staff.”

Hard Rock Bristol’s focus now shifts toward a temporary location. It plans to work with the lottery’s Gaming Compliance Department while the permanent casino is being built.

The short-term casino, dubbed Bristol Casino, Future Home of Hard Rock, will be located at the old Bristol Mall and open in early July. 

Now that the state is set to get its first casino, perhaps a discussion will start on Virginia online casinos in the future.

About the new Hard Rock Bristol

Here’s what Virginia gamblers can expect from Hard Rock’s 30,000-square-foot temporary location:

  • 900 slot machines
  • 20 table games
  • Sportsbook
  • High-limit gaming area
  • Restaurant and grand-and-go dining options
  • Sports bar and entertainment lounge
  • Smoking sports lounge

Virginia Lottery executive director of gaming compliance Gina M. Smith said her team will perform regular checks as it’s being built and gaming equipment arrives.

“We will be on-site at the casino over the next couple of months. (We’ll be) observing the receipt of gaming equipment, reviewing internal controls, and ensuring full compliance with the regulations,” Smith said.

The permanent casino is expected to open in 2024, but an exact timeline hasn’t been laid out.

Other Virginia casinos waiting approval

The Virginia Lottery Board is still reviewing applications for other Virginia casinos, including:

  • Caesars Entertainment in Danville
  • Rush Street Gaming in Norfolk
  • Pamunkey Indian Tribe in Portsmouth

However, there is no timeline for when the VLB could approve each entity for a gaming license.

Voluntary exclusion program extended to casinos

Aside from the big news about Hard Rock Bristol opening, the VLB also announced enhancements to its gambling control program.

The voluntary exclusion program, or self-exclusion program, allows Virginia residents to exclude themselves from partaking in legal gambling. The exclusion periods offered are two years, five years, or a lifetime.

After signing up for the program online, the lottery will distribute your information to the proper Virginia betting commissions. The commission ensures your prohibition from legal gambling in the state.

When you sign up for the program, the commission restricts you from gambling until the exclusion period is up. Those who sign up for the program and still gamble are at risk of forfeiting winnings. Operators will donate forfeited prizes to the Commonwealth’s Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund.

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