Hard Rock Selected to Operate Planned Virginia Casino

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Hard Rock International continues to expand its gambling operations nationwide with news that it will run a proposed $250 million casino in Bristol, Virginia.

Bristol, Virginia City Manager Randy Eads is eager to see Hard Rock operate a planned local casino. (Image: The Bristol Herald Courier)

Developers of the gaming venue — tentatively called the Hard Rock Casino Bristol — met with officials from various companies, concluding the Hard Rock association with live music and entertainment is fitting for the casino, as well as the city.

Jim McGlothlin, CEO of The United Company and a co-partner on the Bristol resort and casino development, told the Bristol Herald Courier “Hard Rock’s iconic brand speaks to its deep roots in live music entertainment and world-class memorabilia collection, which will play a prominent role at Hard Rock Casino Bristol. This focus on music will complement our region’s country music heritage and dynamic music scene in the Twin City.”

I cannot think of a better place for Hard Rock Casino to be than here in Bristol, Virginia,” City Manager Randy Eads agreed in a statement to the Herald Courier on Friday. “Hard Rock is synonymous with music. With our storied history of music here in Bristol, to have a new partner aligned with the music industry like Hard Rock is, I cannot think of a more exciting time to be in the city of Bristol.”

McGlothlin added that Hard Rock management also “understands the significant economic development impact the Hard Rock Casino Bristol will have on the city and the entire surrounding region, in terms of new jobs and additional tax revenue. As seasoned casino resort operators, they are committed to working closely with us to maximize the benefits of this project for local residents while highlighting the many opportunities this region has to offer to all.”

The casino — planned for the now vacant Bristol Mall — and located near the Virginia-Tennessee border, still needs approvals from the state and city before construction can begin. The project is led by coal industry veterans McGlothlin and Clyde Stacy.

In March, Virginia legislators approved an initial bill allowing for commercial casinos. It also needs additional approvals.

Virginia Gambling Report Due Monday

On Monday, the Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission is scheduled to release a report on gaming. The report is part of the overall approval process for casino development.

Hard Rock has 12 casinos. They are in Hollywood and Tampa, Florida, Biloxi, Mississippi, Atlantic City, New Jersey, Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe, Nevada, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sioux City, Iowa, Wheatland, California, two in Canada (one of which is still being developed), and one in the Dominican Republic.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida-owned company also runs numerous hotels, cafes and Rock Shops. Hard Rock is planning to operate new casinos elsewhere in the US.

Hard Rock and Spectacle Entertainment are ready to move forward on a $300 million, land-based casino in Gary, Indiana. Another Hard Rock casino is proposed for Rockford, Illinois.

Casino Cause Leads to Virginia Political Donations

Virginia state legislators have gotten over $310,000 in contributions through a new political action committee (PAC) from the developers of the proposed Bristol resort and casino, according to news reports.

The Betting on Virginia Jobs PAC donated $311,500 to 50 state Senate and House campaigns during August and September, the Herald Courier reported, citing data from the Virginia Public Access Project.

To support the commercial casino cause, McGlothlin, president of The United Co., and Stacy, CEO of Par Ventures, set up the PAC. Each paid $50,000 earlier this year for the committee’s founding.

Since then, either individually or through their companies, the men in total have donated $450,000 to the PAC, the Herald Courier said.

As of earlier this year, Bristol casino resort also employed eight registered lobbyists. They advocate on behalf of the planned venue to politicians and the public.

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