Virginia’s first full-service casino opens in Bristol
BRISTOL, Va. (WDBJ) - Friday was a big day in Bristol, Virginia as the state’s first full-service casino opened for business.
The line of customers wrapped around the building when the doors opened about 90 minutes earlier than advertised.
“We had to come and save my sister from spending all her money,” joked Christiansburg resident Cheryl Hubbard. “And spend all of his,” she said pointing to her husband James.
We met others from Christiansburg and Wythe County, and from across the state line in Tennessee.
“We really wanted to be here,” said Paul Shortt, who was visiting the casino with his wife Barbara, “because we wanted to support it, because we need this in this community. It brought a lot of jobs.”
What they found when they made it inside were 870 slot machines, 21 table games and some of the music memorabilia that will populate the permanent Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
Allie Evangelista is President of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol.
“We don’t want to open just a warehouse with a bunch of slot machines,” she told reporters following a tour of the casino Friday morning. “This is a first-class facility. I’ve mentioned to a lot of people that this is a project I’m very proud to be leading. And it’s just temporary, and I can’t wait to show you what is coming in 2024.”
Casino officials received their license from the Virginia Lottery. They thanked the Virginia lawmakers who supported the legislation that made it possible.
And as they opened with 600 team members, they promised those numbers will grow.
Marcellus Osceola is Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which owns Hard Rock.
“I know this isn’t a Hard Rock,” Osceola said. “This is a Bristol Casino, but everything is leading down that path to a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which is going to provide more jobs, more housing, more food on your table, more clothes on your child’s back for many years to come.”
Casino officials were asked about concerns in the community. They said employee training includes a focus on problem gambling, and how to help guests who need it. But they also cited the jobs, economic activity and support for non-profits that gaming will bring to the region.
The new Bristol Casino is now open, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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