Virginia Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Buys Time With Fall Grand Opening Date

Developers behind Virginia Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol are using some extra time to debut their permanent gaming and lodging destination near the Tennessee border.

The hotel and casino partners originally planned to open the Bristol venue in phases, but the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation to give commonwealth-based casinos six additional months to finish construction.

Hard Rock Bristol partners said they’d prefer to showcase a fully operational casino instead of a fast-tracked ceremonial opening with phased-in amenities.

Developers haven’t set a date, but plans call for a “late fall” grand opening.

“The response to our temporary casino has been overwhelmingly positive, demonstrating the excitement for Hard Rock’s permanent presence in Bristol,” Hard Rock Bristol President Allie Evangelista said.

“While we are eager to unveil the new resort, this extension allows us time to ensure the finished product exceeds the expectations of our guests and the community.”

Virginia Hard Rock is Part of an Emerging Industry

Lawmakers — not excavators — shaped the future of casino gambling just a presidential election cycle ago. In February 2020, the Virginia Assembly and then-Gov. Ralph Northam gave five cities legislative permission to ask voters whether they wanted gaming in their backyards.

Following a successful Bristol referendum in November 2020, Virginia Hard Rock developers took over the footprint of the Bristol Mall. Section by section, contractors converted the space into Bristol Casino — Future Home of Hard Rock.

Hard Rock’s temporary casino hosted the state’s first bets on July 8, 2022. The casino has a sports bar and lounge to enjoy in-person Virginia sports betting in addition to:

  • 30,000 square feet of casino space
  • 900 slots
  • 29 table games
  • non-smoking and high-limit gaming areas, and
  • regional cuisine.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth became the second operational Virginia casino when it opened on Jan. 23, 2023. Caesars Virginia opened a temporary casino in Danville on May 15, 2023.

Two more gaming competitors could join Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol.

The city of Norfolk, Va., the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, and its financial backers struggled to reach a consensus on plans for the proposed 65,000-square-foot HeadWaters Casino along the Elizabeth River. Plans called for a casino and 300-room resort next to Harbor Park, which houses the Triple-A Norfolk Tides baseball team.

The city of Petersburg, near Richmond, plans to develop a Live! Casino and 200-room resort with Cordish Companies. The complex is part of a $1.4 billion mixed-use project. Petersburg voters would need to support the project on the Nov. 5 election ballot, however.

Virginia Casino Revenue So Far

Virginia casinos set a single-month record for revenue with $65.1 million in March 2024, according to numbers from the Virginia Lottery. April 2024’s $60.1 million holds the second-highest total.

Hard Rock Casino Bristol has generated $298.1 million since opening in 2022. It typically averages about $12-14 million in revenue each month. Its single-month record is $16.3 million in March 2024.

Virginia’s three operating casinos in Bristol, Danville, and Portsmouth have generated about $872.3 million in revenue since casino gambling debuted in the state.


About the Author
Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell

Lead Writer
Russ Mitchell joined Gaming Today as a lead writer in February 2023 after joining Catena Media in 2021 as a managing editor for the PlayIA and PlayVA brands. He covers sports betting industry news market developments, the college sports betting industry, and the four major North American pro sports leagues. With 25+ years of journalism experience to Gaming Today. He is a five-time winner of the Iowa’s prestigious Harrison “Skip” Weber Investigative Reporting award, a two-time National Newspaper Association award winner and a 50-time Iowa Newspaper Association award winner.

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