Earlier this year, lawmakers in Virginia approved a measure to allow five new casinos to open throughout the state. Under the current plan, one of these gaming venues will be located in the city of Bristol. This week, airport executives in the city spoke with the media about some of the potential tourism benefits the Bristol casino project could bring the city.
Many feel that Virginia’s casino will eventually grow to become one of the biggest on the East Coast. The legalization of this industry came at a tough time, though. Now is the perfect time to look at when the new casino in Bristol may open its doors.
Let’s get into it!
Virginia’s Long Road to Casino Legalization
For years, we’ve been covering Virginia’s slowly-changing gambling regulations. For many years, almost all forms of gambling were completely prohibited here. State officials started to realize the massive revenue potential that legal casinos could bring about a decade ago.
In early 2020, an official bill to legalize tribal and commercial casinos made its way through Virginia’s House and Senate. It was pushed through and ultimately approved by Governor Northam. The timing, it would turn out, was not ideal.
The US land-based casino industry is in its toughest position ever. Back in March, all casinos around the country were forced to shut down. States have gradually begun allowing these properties to reopen.
Things are far from normal, though. Intense safety regulations are set in place at all casinos around the United States. Most casinos continue to see monthly massive revenue drops when compared to the same months in 2019.
This isn’t what Virginia’s lawmakers want to see. The state has already invested a large amount of money and time into the legalization of this industry. Some analysts feel it could take years to see a full recovery, if a full recovery is possible at all.
That isn’t stopping officials from pushing ahead with their casino plans. We’re now beginning to hear more about how a casino in Bristol would help the city.
Bristol Casino Project is Expected to Boost Tourism
As of now, three cities have official permission to host one of Virginia’s new casinos. That includes Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Bristol. That latter is continuing to push hard to be one of the first cities in the state with a casino.
Many residents, business owners, and officials here are excited to see this new gaming venue open. This week, several advocates of the project spoke to the media about the benefits this new Bristol casino project will bring the city. That includes a significant increase in air traffic and tourism.
United Company President and Chief Operating Officer Martin Kent feels confident this Hard Rock-run casino will be a huge attraction.
“Hard Rock will operate the hotel and casino. There will be connectivity with their other resorts here in the U.S. and abroad, so we will have truly international reach,” he said. “Bristol will be given the opportunity to draw from a large pool of highly sought after performers. … We expect restaurants and a shopping experience. People are going to come here and stay and play and participate in many attractions as well.”
Casinos are great venues to boost tourism in a city. Many parts of the country rely almost entirely on their casinos to bring in visitors. As you might expect, the casino shutdown back in March proved to be devastating for these cities.
This venue is also expected to bring the city somewhere between $15 and $20 million in tax revenue. At a time when cities and states desperately need money, it’s easy to see why officials are pushing so hard to get the Bristol casino open.
When Will Virginia’s Sports Betting Options Become Available?
Since May of 2018, every state around the country has been given permission to legalize and regulate sports betting. 18 states have already launched their sportsbooks. Six more have approved sports betting bills and will launch their sports betting options in the near future.
As we already mentioned, Virginia has taken a complete 180 when it comes to their stance on the gambling industry. Casinos will soon be operational throughout the state. In July of 2020, Governor Northam also approved a measure to allow both online and land-based sports betting.
Many are surprised at the fact that sports betting has not become available here yet. The longer the state waits, the longer it will take to generate revenue. Ultimately, however, lawmakers here want to ensure this new industry is launched the correct way.
Most analysts predict that Virginia’s sports betting options will launch before the end of the year. It’s expected to immediately begin drawing in large revenue earnings.
If all goes to plan, construction on the Bristol casino project will begin next year. Many analysts seem to feel that it will be a huge benefit to the city. We’ll continue offering updates on this casino and others in the state over the next few weeks.
Are you excited to see casinos open in Virginia? Let us know in the comments section below!