Sean MacEntee, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The Hard Rock Bristol Casino is opening its temporary location on Friday – the first casino to be opened in Virginia after the General Assembly legalized casinos with five prospective host cities in 2020. The casino has already hosted invitation-only events in Bristol on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, including a Thursday event at the Bristol Motor Speedway for casino employees.

The TimesNews reported that Casino Bristol President Allie Evangelista told employees, “I want to tell you I had a meeting with Virginia Lottery today and the test day was very successful.”

According to an announcement, the grand opening event begins at 11 a.m., and doors open to the public at 2 p.m.

The temporary site, located in the Bristol Mall, has about 30,000 square feet of casino space with about 870 slots, 20 tables, and a sportsbook, and will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will also have a Hard Rock merchandise store, a restaurant, and a sports bar. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Bristol is scheduled to hold its grand opening in summer 2024, featuring 1,500 slots, 55 tables, and a 300-room hotel, according to an April presentation to the Virginia Lottery Board. A later development phase is planned to expand the hotel.

The lottery board granted Virginia’s first casino license to the Casino Bristol in April.

“Since enacted by the 2020 General Assembly, the Board’s priority for casino gaming in the Commonwealth is that it be conducted with integrity and in a responsible manner,” Board Chairman Ferhan Hamid said in an April release. “Today’s approval reflects the confidence we have in the rigorous and conscientious review conducted by Virginia Lottery staff.”

Three other casinos across Virginia will be opening in the next few years: Rivers Casino Portsmouth is scheduled for an early 2023 opening, according to a June release. Nearby HeadWaters Resort and Casino is working to open a temporary site at Harbor Park Stadium during construction before its scheduled 2024 opening, according to 500 Nations. In Richmond, a battle with the General Assembly is ongoing as legislators support giving the fifth casino license to Portsmouth instead of Richmond.

In May, a Caesars Entertainment spokesperson told the Danville City Council that its plans to open a new casino would be delayed until 2024, according to WDBJ.

“The December 1, 2023 anticipated opening date we all wanted, it’s going to be an unrealistic goal, it’s just not gonna happen,” Caesars Entertainment Senior VP for Development Robert Livingston said in the meeting.

This article originally appeared in The Virginia Star. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard. Republished with permission.