Hard Rock Will Be Virginia’s First Casino

Hard Rock Front Entrance
Virginia’s long wait for a land-based casino will be coming to an end soon. The state’s lottery board unanimously voted to grant Hard Rock an operator license. Hard Rock plans to build its new casino in Bristol. In addition to a casino, Hard Rock plans to build a hotel and an outdoor entertainment venue.

The new casino is not expected to be completed for at least two years. In the meantime, Hard Rock will open a temporary casino at the Bristol Mall this summer. The temporary location will have hundreds of slot machines and over 20 table games. It will also create hundreds of jobs and allow the casino developer to build a customer base in the area.

Hard Rock will be the first casino to open in Virginia. However, it will not likely be the last. Multiple other operators have proposed casinos at locations throughout the state. The Virginia State Lottery board has not given a timeline for decisions on the other proposals.

Hard Rock’s Casino Plans in Virginia

With the newly awarded operator license in hand, Hard Rock can now focus on building its new casino in Virginia. Hard Rock will be constructing the venue in Bristol, VA, just north of the Tennessee state line. The massive venue is expected to take open in July 2024.

When it is completed, the permanent location will be a 90,000 square-foot casino. Plans for the number of gaming machines have not yet been revealed. However, we do that the venue will have a performance center with 3,200 seats. There will also be an outdoor entertainment venue that can hold 20,000 people.

Hard Rock Bristol is expected to cost $400 million. It is also projected to bring in $21 million annually in tax revenue for the city of Bristol. In addition to the tax revenue, the new casino resort will create roughly 2,000 new jobs. The venue will also feature the typical Hard Rock amenities such as music-themed lounges and restaurants.

While constructing the new casino, Hard Rock will operate a temporary casino at the old Bristol Mall. The gaming operator has been renovating the venue since last December. By July, the 30,000 square foot temporary casino should be ready to open. It will have 21 table games and 870 slot machines available. The temporary casino is projected to create 600 new jobs.

Why Did Virginia Pick Hard Rock?

The Virginia Lottery Board was tasked with picking the first land-based casino operator in the state. Earlier this week, the board announced that the honor would go to Hard Rock. The board approved Hard Rock’s casino proposal with a 7-0 vote.

For two years now, the state lottery board has been overseeing casino gaming and sports wagering. According to statements from the board, they felt Hard Rock best fit the vision they wanted for Virginia’s first casino. The Virginia Lottery Board had previously stated they wanted to choose an operator that conducted itself with integrity.

In the announcement, the lottery board praised Hard Rock’s casino plans. The board also asserted its belief that the selection process was conducted with the desired level of integrity. In addition to approving Hard Rock’s bid, the Virginia Lottery Board approved casinos to join the voluntary exclusion program. Virginia residents will be able to voluntarily ban themselves from gambling at the new Hard Rock casino.

Multiple Other Virginia Casinos in the Works

The Hard Rock Bristol will be the first casino in Virginia. However, it is unlikely to be alone for long. The Virginia Lottery Board is still considering applications for three other casino sites. According to reports, the sites are located in Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.

There have also been plans discussed for a casino in Richmond. However, residents in the state capital voted against building a casino in the city. If the public support changes, then Richmond will be one of the most sought-after sites in the state.

Many of the top casino developers in the US have shown interest in building a casino in Virginia’s capital. Last year, One Casino, Live!, and Bally’s were named finalists for the Richmond site. For now, any plans for a Richmond casino are in limbo.


After years of debate, the Virginia Lottery Board has named Hard Rock as the developer for the state’s first casino. The state lottery board was placed in charge of casinos and sports betting back in 2020. Hard Rock plans to build the casino in Bristol, VA along the Tennessee border.

While it builds its permanent site, Hard Rock also plans to operate a temporary casino in Bristol. The casino developer has been renovating the Bristol Mall to accommodate a 30,000-square-foot venue. It is expected to open this summer and the permanent casino will open in 2024.