The community of Bristol recently gathered by the hundreds in Cumberland Square Park in an attempt to state their position and voice their opinion that a casino venue is not welcome in the region. The push towards a Bristol Mall makeover continues following the vote of state officials from the Virginia City Council which strives to bring a gaming venue despite the fervent opposition of a considerable part of the community. A $125-million city debt is eyed as one of the main incentives.
In an attempt to show that they will not agree to a casino construction in the region, more than a thousand members of the community organized in a timely manner and decided to take to the streets. People voiced their discontent with the construction of a casino venue and providing gaming offerings at such an accessible location as the currently vacant Bristol Mall.
The Gate City Highway area is known for its high-traffic nature which would lead to the constant flow of people to the casino venue. This would be more than convenient for a potential casino operation, but members if the community strongly oppose such.
Religious Community Oversee the Rally
Churches to the liking of the Victory Baptist Church, Tennessee Avenue Baptist Church, Fellowship Chapel, Parkway Baptist Worship Center, and Belle Meadows Baptist Church decided it is time for action and a protest is the best way to approach the situation. When it comes to the opposition of the proposed gaming venue, more than 40 Bristol pastors joined the protest stating that such venture would only have a negative impact on the region.
Gambling is projected to bring a surge in the levels of problem gambling in the area, as well as crime rates. The devastating effect of gambling on the community is also expected to be seen if the proposed gambling facility commences operation. Earlier this month The Family Foundation of Virginia stated its concerns and publicly issued a statement opposing the move.
Chiming in, backers of the project stated the new venue would bring more job positions to the region, as well as boost the economy and fill the gaping budget hole. In addition to the organized rally against the Bristol Mall conversion, a signature collection has also been in progress for the past several weeks with many canvassers bosting the process.
Hundreds from Bristol, Virginia and Tennessee are gathered at Cumberland Square Park to oppose a project to turn the abandonned Bristol Mall into a casino. pic.twitter.com/F6UWxmCJD2
— Jackie DeFusco WJHL (@JackieWjhl) October 21, 2018
Satte Lawmakers Have the Last Say
The people responsible for the organization of the protest are willing to show just how many people stand against the casino venue. Prior to the start of the rally some two thousand individuals had already placed their signature claiming they do not want a casino venue in their community.
Officials from both Virginia and Tennessee are set to receive the petition further solidifying the opposition. It should be taken into account that before any action could be taken, an amendment to the currently existing state regulation should be made. For the time being, casino facilities, as well as greyhound racing, remain strictly prohibited within the borders of the state.
In order to make the process fair for all parties involved in it, Senator Bill Carrico stated that a referendum would be needed. The beginning of next year could see the official change to the set of rules overseeing the gaming field, as the Virginia General Assembly will once again reconvene in January.
Even though there was a voting back in September state lawmakers would have the last say. Bristol Virginia City Council and the School Board claimed they back the transformation of the 550,000-square-foot Bristol Mall into a casino resort.