Proposal for Bristol Casino Reopens Debate on Virginia’s Gambling Laws
A vacated mall in Bristol, Virginia, could possibly be converted into a casino by its new owners. The group that acquired the mall earlier in 2018 have proposed to convert the 450,000 square-foot property into a casino and multi-entertainment center. The head of the group, Clyde Stacy, has confirmed these reports. It was also reported that Alliance Group Ltd., the public relations firm, has been hired by the owners to take on lobbying responsibilities.
If the casino project were to go ahead as planned, the facility would feature not just gambling options but also entertainment and food. The project would both generate revenue for the state as well as create new jobs for residents. If the projections are anything to go by, then the casino complex could generate about 2,000 jobs. Projections also state that 80% of the customers would be from other states.
City Council nod
The Bristol City Council seem to be in favor of the casino project with many City Council members showing a positive response to the plan. According to City Manager Randy Eads, the City Council and the owners of the property are working together to iron out any concerns that might arise. With the City Council on board, the casino might have a chance of opening in Bristol.
There is, however, one major hurdle in the way of this ambitious proposal; gambling is illegal in Virginia. As per the state’s laws, gambling is not permitted within state limits, and the casino might not get permission to operate. Despite the City Council approval, the casino project could still face some problems in the Legislative Assembly. The state’s lawmakers have not always looked favorably on changing the law pertaining to gambling and this time could be no different. The casino project could be stalled till Legislative Amendments have been made.
Senator Bill Carrico believes that the project might not get permission easily. The senator who is personally opposed to legalizing gambling in Virginia is skeptical about any amendments being made in the near future. On the other side of the debate, City Manager Eads argues that the state only stands to lose revenue the longer the amendments are delayed.
The ray of hope for those in favor of the casino lies in the possibility of a referendum where the residents are allowed to decide. If those residing in the area vote in favor of changing the law, the Bristol casino project just might see the light of day.