he Virginia Lottery Board will now accept gaming license applications from four voter-approved casino projects, and Richmond officials voted earlier this week to place its casino referendum on the November ballot, reports the Bristol Herald Courier.
Casino operators chosen by voters in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth must undergo a comprehensive financial evaluation and extensive criminal background checks of owners, principle operators, managers, and gaming employees before the state will issue a gaming operator’s license. Lottery officials previously said approvals will likely continue well into 2022.
The Lottery Board approved preliminary casino regulations in February and is expected to consider proposed permanent regulations at its July 21 meeting. A lengthy review process is to follow, and regulations must be finalized by September 2022 to become effective in October 2022, as prescribed in the enabling legislation.
A facility operator’s license will be good for 10 years and costs $15 million. Facility operators will be required to pay $50,000 for each background investigation of each person, lottery officials previously said.
The company said: “We continue making good progress towards opening the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol. Our team is working closely with the Virginia Lottery as part of the licensing process. We are excited for the boost the project will bring to Bristol, and the regional economy, with new jobs and additional tax revenue.”
There is no updated timeline. The planned $400 million project is to include 100,000 square feet of gaming space, a 300-room hotel that can be expanded, indoor and outdoor entertainment venue spaces, dining, bar, and retail shopping options, and meeting space at the former Bristol Mall property on Gate City Highway.
Three other casino projects are also in the early stages of development.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth held virtual job and vendor information fairs in the spring and had more than 1,000 participants interested in working there and over 850 in the vendor event.
Last Thursday, casino spokesperson Delceno Miles, said: “The city approved our use permits, so we can start making some improvements to the site, like moving the retention spot. Of course, everything is subject to the ending licensure from the Virginia Lottery Board to do much more than that.”
The planned $300 million complex is to anchor a new entertainment district along Victory Boulevard and include a casino, sportsbook, hotel, event and conference venues, and restaurants. It is being developed and operated by Rush Street Gaming, which is precertified because it’s already a licensed Virginia sportsbook operator. The hotel may be added after the casino opens.
Miles added: “We’re focused on getting the casino built and still doing the analysis on what type of hotel we’re going to build. The hotel will be built, but the casino will be built first in late 2022 or early 2023.”
In Norfolk, the Pamunkey Indian tribe announced in April their project would be named HeadWaters Resort and Casino, which represents the tribe’s first venture into the gaming market. They also released new conceptual drawings of the $500 million project at Harbor Park. It shows the casino, a 300-room hotel with a rooftop bar, pool, spa, and events space. Plans also include restaurants, bars, a 2,500-seat entertainment venue, and a 2,000-vehicle parking deck.
The chief of the Pamunkey Indian tribe Robert Gray, said: “I’m confident that this project will exceed the expectations of everyone. It will be the destination of choice for gaming in Virginia. We are living up to every promise we made and are determined to make this a project of which Norfolk can be proud.”
Caesars Virginia LLC, which also has its Virginia sportsbook license, plans to build a $400 million facility on the former Dan River Mills Schoolfield division site that is expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2023.
Hard Rock Bristol, like the other casinos, was assured a sportsbook license, provided it passed all the checks, but hasn’t finalized it.
Richmond voters will voice their say on a casino in that city on November 2, after its City Council voted 8-1 Monday to place the casino referendum on the ballot.
City leaders previously selected a group headed by Urban One, a Maryland-based media company, from a field of six proposals. The partnership includes Urban One Inc., which owns and operates the TV One cable TV network and 55 radio stations, and Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, which owns Colonial Downs Group, which operates the state’s lone horse racing venues, and Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums.
Plans call for 100,000 square feet of gaming space, a 250-room luxury hotel, 3,000 feet of entertainment venue, food, and dining options, according to its proposal. It is to be built on a 100-acre site on the city’s south side.