Posted on: December 10, 2021, 09:55h. 

Last updated on: December 10, 2021, 11:42h.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol held a ceremonial groundbreaking this week of its temporary 30,000-square-foot gaming space inside the former Bristol Mall. Company officials told attendees that they should expect the first legal bet to be placed in the Virginia-Tennessee border town in the second quarter of 2022.

Hard Rock Bristol Virginia casino resort
Attendees of a public unveiling last year of Hard Rock Bristol gaze over a model of the resort concept. Hard Rock says a temporary casino inside the former Bristol Mall will open in the first half of 2022. (Image: Hard Rock News)

Bristol is one of four cities in Virginia that has authorized the construction of a single casino resort. The four cities see gaming as an economic stimulator.

Hard Rock Bristol is a more than $300 million undertaking that will result in two new hotel towers at the former mall site. The permanent casino will come with 2,700 slot machines, 100 table games, and a sportsbook. The resort will feature 750 hotel rooms, a 3,200-seat concert theater, convention space, a spa, and numerous restaurants and bars.

The resort’s grand concept is expected to take up to three years to complete. But gamblers won’t have to wait that long to place their first wager. Hard Rock officials say a 30,000-square-foot temporary casino with 900 slots and 20 table games will open sometime between April through June. The temporary gaming space is expected to cost $400,000 to create.

Bristol Backers

Bristol’s casino plan comes from Virginia businessmen Jim McGlothlin and Clyde Stacy. The two were largely responsible for bringing Virginia commercial gambling. They led the early campaign to urge lawmakers in Richmond to pass legislation to allow struggling cities to use a casino to spur regional investment.

McGlothlin and Stacey have been acquaintances for decades, their friendship dating back to their high school days in Bristol. Through their respective businesses — The United Company and Par Ventures, LLC — the two have amassed vast fortunes through the coal industry.

In 2018, the two area business leaders made a bet on a new industry: casino gambling. After seeing the mall close and hundreds of jobs lost, the duo partnered to develop a “moonshot” of economic activity for Bristol. After buying the mall but failing to recruit new businesses, the duo turned to gambling.

[The casino] is something Jim and I believe is going to be long-lasting and make a mark on Bristol,” Stacy explained as he was honored as co-Bristolians of the Year in 2020 with McGlothlin. The award was bestowed on the two by the Bristol Herald Courier.

McGlothlin and Stacy say Hard Rock Bristol will bring back jobs.

The temporary casino inside the former mall will require around 600 workers, Hard Rock says. The provisional casino will be housed inside the former Belk department store. Along with slots and table games, the gaming venue will offer a restaurant, sports bar and lounge, and smoking section.

Building the from-the-ground-up hotel towers will create 1,000 construction jobs. Once complete, Hard Rock Bristol’s permanent workforce is expected to number around 2,000 positions.

Partnership Specifics Unknown

McGlothlin and Stacy announced their affiliation with Hard Rock International in November of 2019.

Hard Rock is owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Because Hard Rock is privately owned by the tribe, financial details of the partnership have not been disclosed.

Hard Rock is today one of the world’s largest casino operators, with gaming resorts in Atlantic City, Mississippi, Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Indiana, Illinois, California, Iowa, Oklahoma, Canada, and the Dominican Republic.



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