A new resort casino planned for Bristol, Virginia, could bring much-needed investment to the area.
While the legalization of sports betting in the US has been grabbing the headlines in recent weeks, the casino industry is still going strong. Bristol, Virginia, for example, is getting ready to welcome a new resort casino to the area, which would see an investment of $150m (£115m).
Details of the new casino
The community has already showcased its support for the new casino resort. The city of Bristol, Virginia, is very close to the state border, not far from its twin city – also called Bristol – in the neighboring state of Tennessee.
The resort is expected to bring a lot of money and jobs into the local economy, in addition to helping with the state coffers.
The project, currently known as the Bristol Resort and Casino, is headed by two of Virginia’s leading business people, Clyde Stacy and Jim McGlothlin.
The casino is likely to be located in a currently vacant section of the Bristol Mall, an area of around 50 acres – plenty of room for the casino and other planned attractions. The mall shut down in August 2017 and has been lying unused ever since.
In addition to the casino, there will be a myriad of entertainment options including a variety of family-friendly attractions.
Plans are also underway for a 25,000 square foot sportsbook area, a 1,000-room hotel, and spaces for restaurants, retailers and the like. Construction work on the complex is expected to create around 2,000 new jobs in the local area, with the number increasing over time.
Clyde Stacy bought the site in June 2018 at the bargain price of $2.6m (£2m). The project will be funded entirely by the two businessmen at the helm, with no investment from the state.
Approval is still needed for the casino resort to go ahead. The Virginia General Assembly will make the final decision. If the project does go ahead, the state is expected to garner more than $26m (£15.4m) in tax revenues during the first seven years of opening.
Gambling stance in Virginia
Virginia has traditionally opposed gambling of all kinds. Despite the lucrative revenues on offer, the state has resisted attempts to allow the establishment of casinos in its jurisdiction.
In the summer of 2018, the state racetrack was purchased for $20m and will soon reopen after several years of inactivity. The reason for this new deal was due to a particular video game for horse racing that was legalized by the state General Assembly, a game which is similar to a slot machine.
Also, the Pamunkey Indian tribe plans to create its own casino resort worth $700m (£538m), having already gotten a billionaire investor on board for the project. The tribe has been recognized on a federal level since 2016, which gives them the right to a casino license from the state.
Ten states in the country do not allow casino gambling of any kind. Despite their neighbors North Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland having extensive offerings, even the likes of riverboat gambling have been banned since the 1990s.
A casino bill has been in the works and caught up in the Senate committee for several years. However, it seems as if a change is on its way.
Forty percent of the customers at the MGM Grand casino in Maryland, close to the Virginia border, apparently come from Virginia. In March 2018, the six casinos in Maryland generated over $44m (£33.8m) in revenue for the state education fund.
The Virginia Governor, Ralph Northam, has noted these potential benefits for his own state and has talked about considering certain reforms.
While conservative opposition to any such changes is still substantial, others parties are now having their heads turned by the potential benefits.