Bristol Casino Numbers Dip But Revenue Range Remains Consistent

Bristol Casino Numbers Dip But Revenue Range Remains Consistent
By Keith Stein
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Gaming activity at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol, Virginia's first casino, generated another $14 million in Adjusted Gross Revenues in October from slots and table games. This is the third month in a row the casino has handled more than $14 million.

October's handle of $14,144,160 is down by 1.1% from the $14,305,177 in the Virginia September casino revenue report. The casino's 21 table games experienced the biggest drop, down 3.8% from September. Slot machines generated $11,273,174, down 0.42%.

Bristol's handle was released by the Virginia Lottery on Tuesday.

The Virginia Lottery approved a casino license for Hard Rock Bristol in April 2022, and the temporary facility, on the site of the former Bristol Mall, opened to the public on July 8.

A total of $2.5 million was paid in taxes from the October handle; $848,649.59 went to the Regional Improvement Commission, $20,367.59 to the Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund, $5,091.90 goes to Family and Children's Trust Fund and $1,671,839.68 remains available in the Gaming Proceeds Fund.

Sports Betting Revenue vs. Bristol Casino

The casino's handle has been very consistent since opening in July, a sharp contrast compared to Virginia sports betting numbers which are much more volatile and subject to seasonal shifts.

For example, Virginia’s sports wagering handle took a healthy jump in September from August, presumably because of the start of NFL and college football, and the revenue set a state record.

The September Virginia sports betting handle of almost $411.3 million was a 44.5% increase from August (almost $284.7 million). In addition, August's handle was up 7.0% from July's $266 million.

The market for Virginia sports betting apps is all online.

Meanwhile, Bristol Casino maintained a handle of $14 million each month for the same period.

Expansion of Gambling In The Commonwealth

For decades legal gambling in Virginia was limited to charitable gaming, the state lottery and horse racing. Wagering in Virginia reached $3.4 billion in 2018 when just those three forms of gaming were legal in the state.

After studying the potential revenue and economic impacts of casinos and sports wagering, Virginia's General Assembly legalized those forms of gaming in 2020. There has been little movement to make online casinos in Virginia a reality.

In 2021, Virginians wagered $9.4 billion on legal forms of gaming in the Commonwealth, almost triple what they wagered three years earlier.

Groundbreaking For Full Casino & Hotel

Currently a temporary casino, Hard Rock Bristol consists of 30,000 square feet of casino space featuring 870 slots, 21 tables, and a sportsbook open to the public seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The space includes the main casino floor as well as non-smoking and high-limit gaming areas with more than 70 games.

Bristol Casino President Allie Evangelista announced this month that she expects the formal groundbreaking ceremony for the full casino and hotel to happen this month.

“We are ready to move forward and will be opening spring-summer of 2024,” Evangelista told the Bristol Herald Courier.

Three more casinos are under construction in Virginia — Caesars Virginia in Danville, Rivers Casino Portsmouth in Portsmouth, and HeadWaters Resort & Casino in Norfolk. A fifth casino for the state may end up in Petersburg or Richmond depending on the results of voter referendums in 2023.

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Contributors

Keith Stein is a Virginia-based writer for BetVirginia.com who covers sports betting and casinos.

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