BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – The Virginia Lottery Board approved proposed permanent casino regulations at its quarterly meeting Wednesday. The unanimous approval could mean a year-long delay to Hard Rock’s original timeline for the casino in Bristol.

After the Wednesday vote, proposed casinos in Bristol, Norfolk, Danville, and Portsmouth may apply for official casino licensing.

Lottery officials said 22 licensing investigators have been retained to comb through applications.

“In terms of one of the most important things we did this time around, there are more details for in-person sports betting, and there is more information on local casino gaming that takes place within the casino proper itself,” Robert Fontaine, Deputy General Counsel for Va. Lottery said. “Enough to get by, but better to have a little bit more meat on that set of regulations.”

The approval initiated the regulations to now be reviewed and approved by the Virginia Governor.

“There will be an administration change in mid-January when the new Governor will come in and I’m hoping that the process will remain smooth and not be too disrupted,” Amy Dilworth, General Counsel for Va. Lottery warned the board. “I can’t predict exactly how long it will take because there’s a new Governor, it’s during General Assembly session and the Governor does not have a deadline.”

The public then has a 60-day comment period to raise any concerns with regulators about the proposal. The board estimated Wednesday that final regulatory approval was estimated for May 2022.

Hard Rock originally proposed to open a temporary casino at the end of 2021, but the new regulatory timeline could mean the Bristol temporary casino wouldn’t open until a year later.

In a statement, a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Bristol Spokesperson says the casino group is committed to opening its Bristol location as soon as possible.

That statement reads as follows:

“We remain committed to opening the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol as soon as possible.  We will be ready to move forward as soon as we receive all the required approvals from the Virginia Lottery.  We are actively engaged in ongoing local efforts to prepare for opening a resort that will bring thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in additional tax revenue to Bristol.”

Andy Poarch, Alliance Group