Posted on: May 17, 2022, 10:47h. 

Last updated on: May 17, 2022, 10:53h.

Hard Rock Sportsbook is the latest online sports wagering platform to commence operations in Virginia.

Hard Rock Sportsbook Bristol casino
A rendering of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol. The Virginia resort launched its Hard Rock Sportsbook online this week. In-person betting will come to Bristol when the casino opens its temporary gaming space in July of 2022. (Image: Hard Rock International)

Hard Rock’s digital sportsbook is the eighth mobile platform to take legal, regulated wagers in the commonwealth. But Hard Rock plans to be first when it comes to taking in-person bets.

Hard Rock International, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, is investing $300 million to transform the former Bristol Mall near the Virginia-Tennessee border into a casino resort. The undertaking includes reutilizing mall space, as well as constructing a standalone hotel tower and resort.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol, as the project is officially known, made history last month by receiving the first commercial casino license to ever be issued in Virginia. The Bristol project won’t be fully finished until sometime in late 2024 or 2025.

But Hard Rock plans to open a temporary casino space inside the mall this July. When it does, the Hard Rock Sportsbook will take in-person bets.

July Opening Details

As Hard Rock Bristol is moving closer to opening its temporary casino, the company is divulging specifics on the gaming space.

Hard Rock officials say the 30,000-square-foot interim casino will feature 870 slot machines and 21 table games. The on-site Hard Rock Sportsbook will offer bettors self-service kiosks and several staffed ticket windows.

Hard Rock Bristol plans to open on July 8. The temporary casino is expected to employ more than 600 people.

We can’t wait to welcome sports fans from across the region to our retail sportsbook location in Bristol,” said Allie Evangelista, president of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol. “The Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app will be an extension of our Bristol property, allowing sports fans to continue their legendary entertainment experience throughout Virginia.”

The temporary casino is being configured inside what was a Belk’s department store. The permanent casino will also utilize the former department store, but also expand into other parts of the former retail shopping complex.

The final Hard Rock Bristol casino will have more than 2,700 slot machines and 100 table games. The resort, highlighted by the 750-room hotel, will feature a spa, seven restaurants and four bars, a3,200-seat indoor theater, an outdoor performance stage and lawn, retail shopping, and a convention space.

Upon full completion, Hard Rock says its Bristol workforce will number approximately 2,000 employees. The resort is additionally expected to support more than a thousand new indirect jobs in the area.

First to Market

Bristol is one of four cities in Virginia proceeding with a casino resort. Gaming undertakings in Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Danville are also in the works.

A fifth could be authorized should local government officials in Richmond decide to re-ask voters to support a gaming development. Last November, city residents narrowly rejected a proposed $565 million venture called ONE Casino + Resort.

Virginia’s historic legalization of casinos in 2020 allowed certain economically destressed cities to mull a gaming project. Only the five mentioned cities qualified to consider a casino to spur regional growth and create new jobs and tax revenue.