Hard Rock gains key approval in bid to operate Virginia’s first casino

Hard Rock has gained a significant approval in its bid to operate the first casino within the state of Virginia, with four establishments currently vying to debut within the state.

Following what was called “a comprehensive review of application materials and an extensive background investigation,” the Virginia Lottery Board, courtesy of a 7-0 vote, has issued Hard Rock Bristol a facility operator’s licence.

“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,” said Ferhan Hamid, Virginia Lottery Board Chair. 

“Today’s approval reflects the confidence we have in the rigorous and conscientious review conducted by Virginia Lottery staff.”

Furthermore, The Lottery has said that it will continue to review application materials for three more proposed casinos in Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth, each of which was approved by voters in local referenda in November 2020.

“The Virginia Lottery has worked diligently for two years to build the appropriate regulatory structure for casino gaming,” noted Kelly Gee, Acting Executive Director. 

“I am proud of the tireless work by our gaming compliance department and our legal counsel for conducting the necessary investigative work to assist the Board in its decision. There are still many steps to the finish line, but there is no doubt that this is an exciting time.”

The Lottery’s gaming compliance department will continue to work closely with Hard Rock Bristol as it prepares to open a temporary facility during July of the current year.

The temporary full-service casino will house an approximate 30,000 square feet of casino space, featuring in the region of 900 gaming slots, 20 tables and a sportsbook for a variety of gaming options.  

Furthermore, the facility will also feature non-smoking and high limit gaming areas, alongside a restaurant, grab and go food outlet, and sports bar and lounge.

“We will be on-site at the casino over the next couple of months observing the receipt of gaming equipment, reviewing internal controls, and ensuring full compliance with the regulations,” added Gina Smith, Virginia Lottery Deputy Executive Director of Gaming Compliance.

Currently there are three other land-based casino developments proceeding in Virginia, those being across Norfolk, Portsmouth and Danville, the operating partners of which are Pamunkey Indian Tribe, Rush Street Gaming, and Caesars, respectively. 

Earlier this year, a Circuit Court judge in the Virginian capital of Richmond gave the city’s revived casino proposal a huge shot in the arm, after granting permission for a second referendum to be held.