BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) — Project developers have named Hard Rock as the operator of the proposed casino at the former Bristol Mall. According to the developers, the new casino would be named Hard Rock Casino Bristol.

Hard Rock operates 31 hotels and 12 casinos plus 218 cafes and Rock Shops.

“To be able to say that Hard Rock is here in Bristol, that changes not only the city but it changes Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee,” said Bristol, Virginia City Manager Randy Eads.

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“With the birthplace of Country Music Museum and with Hard Rock, I think the possibilities are endless for the types of concerts that can be brought here to the city,” Eads said.

Casino project partner Jim McGlothlin agrees.

“We are excited to collaborate with Hard Rock, a well-respected and legendary entertainment brand with legions of devoted customers across the country and around the world. Hard Rock is known for its 31 award winning hotels and 12 casinos, in addition to 218 cafes and Rock Shops® which offer a wide range of amenities that appeal to many different audiences. Hard Rock’s iconic brand speaks to its deep roots in live music entertainment and world-class memorabilia collection, which will play a prominent role at Hard Rock Casino Bristol. This focus on music will complement our region’s country music heritage and dynamic music scene in the Twin City.”
“After vetting multiple leaders in the industry, we are convinced that Hard Rock is the best fit for our project and our community,” said Mr. McGlothlin  “The Hard Rock team understands the significant economic development impact the Hard Rock Casino Bristol will have on the city and the entire surrounding region, in terms of new jobs and additional tax revenue. As seasoned casino resort operators, they are committed to working closely with us to maximize the benefits of this project for local residents while highlighting the many opportunities this region has to offer to all.”

Jim McGlothlin, CEO of The United Company and partner on the project.

In a news release from Hard Rock International, the company said once approval is received from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the citizens of Bristol, operations will begin.

But before the resort build-out begins- which would include a hotel, casino, restaurants, retail, and an entertainment venue, the people of Bristol have to decide if they want Hard Rock Casino Bristol in their back yard by voting on a referendum. That vote is expected to take place between July and December of 2020.”

“I don’t think anybody is looking at it as it’s not going to go through,” said Eads. “We’re moving full steam ahead. We want to push this through.”

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And it could also have a significant impact on a buildout already taking place in the vacant property.

“Everybody in this whole project has known if an entire economic development was announced and would be a part of the Bristol mall that Dharma Pharmaceuticals would have to move,” said Eads.

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When the city is officially notified- Eads says Dharma will have 12 months to move.

He says the impact of the project will benefit the city in the long run.

“Local tax revenue collections will increase dramatically over the next five or 10 years and with those additional tax dollars we have the opportunity to provide better services to our citizens,” said Eads.

The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission asked for a study on casino-style gambling in Virginia to be conducted.

SEE MORE: Firm selected to study casino-style gambling in Virginia

The study done by Colorado-based “The Innovation Group” is expected to help prepare the state’s lottery board to establish regulations on casino-style gambling.

That study is expected to complete by December 1st or sooner.