For the time being, there are no construction works going on in the former Bristol Mall building that is set to soon become the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Bristol.
Still, the President of The United Company, Martin Kent, has informed the community that the disruption of construction works would not stop the casino from coming to town. He shared with a local media hub that a lot had happened “behind the scenes”, even with no bulldozers, cranes, or construction teams being seen at the spot.
There have been some hurdles faced by the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Bristol on the way, with one of the main hold-ups of the project being licensing requirements. As of June 2021, casino projects are required to file an application to the Virginia Lottery Board in case they want an official casino permit. As explained by Mr. Kent, that process is currently underway.
Probably the biggest hurdle of the Bristol casino project so far was the passing of the casino bill allowing commercial casino gaming in the state of Virginia by the General Assembly and Governor Ralph Northam in 2020. With the plans for the casino construction on the spot of the old Bristol Mall being originally unveiled in 2018, it has been quite some time for the project to get going, especially considering the fact that local taxpayers were also required to give their approval in order for the casino plans to start becoming reality.
As the President of The United Company noted, the operator makes sure it does everything by the letter of the law, but there are a lot of nuances, so they just need to navigate their way forward.
Temporary Casino Set to Be Completed by the End of Q1 2022
The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Bristol project includes the transformation of the former mall, situated on a total of 500,000 square feet into a casino establishment, with two hotel towers also set to be built on the site. The hospitality and gambling resort is expected to offer a casino featuring 100 table games and 2,700 slot machines, as well as several bars and restaurants, multiple shops, a convention space, an outdoor concert venue, etc. The project has been estimated at over $300 million.
According to preliminary expectations, the resort is set to create approximately 2,000 direct jobs on a permanent basis, as well as several thousand indirect and induced jobs. During the construction works, it will offer more than 1,000 construction jobs.
As revealed by Mr. Kent, the temporary casino is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2022. The entire project is set to be finalized in the following year and a half to two years. Despite the hurdles faced on the way, The United Company’s President said they believed they were still able to meet that goal.
There are a number of other casino projects in the state of Virginia, such as the ones in Richmond, Norfolk, Danville and Portsmouth but the one in Bristol has been considered to be somewhat of a pioneer. Mr. Kent has noted that the Bristol project had an existing infrastructure to be able to move forward, which was a first for Virginia.
Apart from the legislative and regulatory difficulties that have been blocking the Bristol casino project from proceeding with the construction works right away, there have also been some concerns regarding the community once the gambling venue is once up and running. However, the new casino venues in the state are set to create a new source of revenue, especially in areas that are suffering financially and their economy has been reduced in size throughout the years.