Virginia Lottery Issues Facility Operator’s License To Hard Rock Bristol

Casino gaming is on its way to Virginia, as early as July in Bristol

The Virginia Lottery Board issued a facility operator’s license to Hard Rock Bristol on Wednesday, a move the lottery referred to as a “milestone step” in bringing casino gaming to Virginia. Hard Rock Bristol is the first Virginia casino to receive a facility operator’s license. 

“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,” board Chairman Ferhan Hamid said in a press release. “Today’s approval reflects the confidence we have in the rigorous and conscientious review conducted by Virginia Lottery staff.”

Hard Rock Bristol’s unanimous approval by the seven-member board followed a comprehensive review and background investigation, according to the lottery.

Hard Rock Bristol will open its temporary facility on the site of the former Bristol Mall, and the lottery’s gaming compliance staff will be at the location in coming months to observe the operation. The casino expects to hold its grand opening on July 8, with 30,000 square feet of casino space, 900 slots, 20 tables, and a sportsbook. 

Mobile sports betting is legal in Virginia, and Hard Rock’s mobile sports betting platform went live in the state on March 31. The casino’s physical sportsbook would be the first retail sports betting location in Virginia. Tennessee, which borders Bristol, Virginia, offers mobile sports betting but has no retail sports betting or casinos. 

Other facility operator licenses to come

Virginia’s law only allows casinos in five cities: Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Richmond. Each city is required to hold a local referendum before development can proceed, and voters approved casino gaming in every city except Richmond, where a referendum narrowly failed last year. Officials in Richmond have stirred some controversy by aiming for another referendum this November. 

As for the three proposed casinos in Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth, the lottery says it is “reviewing application materials.”

Photo: Shutterstock


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