Another group has entered a bid to build a casino in Bristol, Virginia. On Jan. 7, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and developer Steve Johnson announced plans to build and operate a casino. Located in Washington County on a 350-acre area, it features a massive shopping center.
The proposed property also includes a hotel with over 1,100 rooms, an indoor water park and an outdoor concert venue. The location is near the border of Bristol, Tennessee, and is also close to several other states including Kentucky and North Carolina. Richard Sneed, the Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), spoke on Tuesday about the proposed casino and state market.
“I have visited the site along I-81 and I am impressed with its strategic, gateway location that serves a five-state area,” Sneed said, according to the Associated Press. “It is our wish to bring new tax revenue and jobs to Washington County and Southwest Virginia region in a positive and impactful way.”
Steve Johnson spoke on his agreement with EBCI.
"Our agreement with Chief Sneed of the EBCI is an extraordinary opportunity to bring an experienced casino owner-operator to Washington County and the Southwest Virginia region," Johnson said. "We look forward to working with the Cherokee Nation, local leaders, and elected officials in Richmond to bring this massive opportunity to fruition."
Bristol City Manager Randy Eads opposes the would-be casino, stating that it could hurt all of Southwest Virginia. However, Bristol Mayor Neal Osborne announced his support of a casino in the Virginia city last August.
Local businessmen and longtime friends Jim McGlothlin and Clyde Stacy announced their interest for a Bristol casino in Aug. 2018. In an interview with the Bristol Herald Courier on Jan. 3, McGlothlin said that they want the casino project to be located at the former Bristol Mall. Hard Rock International would manage the gaming facility.
McGlothlin added that the city desperately needs a casino due to Bristol’s long-term debt of more than $100 million, its low per capita income, and high poverty and unemployment rates.
Virginia lawmakers are contemplating legalizing casinos in the state. It is unlikely more than one casino would be approved near Bristol.
Roughly 420 miles east of Bristol, another Virginia city has a casino proposal. In November, it was reported that the City Council of Portsmouth supported a casino deal between Rush Street Gaming and the Portsmouth Economic Development Authority.
The city council voted unanimously in support of the agreement; the aim in the project is to create nearly 1,000 jobs.