Virginia Casinos Making Progress

In Virginia, the Hard Rock Casino in Bristol and the Pamunkey Tribe’s Headwaters Casino in Norfolk are expected to open in 2024. Hard Rock’s temporary casino opened in July and Pamunkey officials also hope to debut a temporary Norfolk venue in the near future.

The permanent $500 million Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Bristol in Virginia still is set to open in 2024, despite recent changes in the plan, officials said. A groundbreaking was held at the site of the former Sears building at the Bristol Mall last month.

Hard Rock International Chief Operating Officer Jon Lucas said, “What changed was due to some supply chain issues and some construction costs that were escalating. We took another look at what the best way is to do this and we found that tearing down the Sears building would be cheaper than trying to retrofit the Sears building. We have a commitment to Virginia Lottery and we will live up to that for sure.”

Lucas added the 30,000 square-foot temporary casino, which opened in July, will be included in the permanent facility. He said, “We feel like the temporary facility came out so nice, that with a little bit of sprucing up we can make that part of the permanent as well.” Lucas said that space will be exclusively non-smoking.

Hard Rock Bristol is the first of potentially five casinos to open in Virginia. Hard Rock Bristol President Allie Evangelista said, “We are really excited about other casinos coming to the state of Virginia. Obviously being the first one is something we are proud of, but it is a lot more work to be the first.”

In Norfolk, the city council unanimously voted to approve allowances for the parking lot at the Harbor Park stadium, the future location of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe’s Headwaters Resort & Casino. The city will sell the lot to the tribe as soon as casino plans are finalized. The council also approved an allowance for a seawall on the Elizabeth River on land adjacent to the stadium and the planned casino. The venue is expected to open in 2024.

The tribe hoped to open a temporary casino inside the stadium this past summer. However, a Virginian-Pilot investigation revealed that plan didn’t conform to specific language in the casino-gambling referendum Norfolk voters approved in 2020.

Tribal officials said the temporary casino will be built in the stadium parking lot and would operate during construction of the casino resort. No opening date for the temporary casino has been announced.