Wagers top $37 million in Bristol Casino's first week

Bristol Herald Courier
Wagers top $37 million in Bristol Casino's first week

BRISTOL, Va. –Patrons of the new Bristol Casino wagered more than $37.5 million - and won more than $33.7 million - during its first full week of operation.

Those figures were presented Wednesday to the Virginia Lottery Board, which oversees casinos, sports wagering and lottery operations in the state. Totals are from July 5-14, but primarily starting July 8, since the casino opened at about 12:30 p.m. that day, but held invitation-only soft opening events on the evenings of July 5 and July 7.

The Bristol Casino’s adjusted gaming revenue after payouts was $3.74 million and its first week generated more than $673,000 in taxes, according to Gina Smith, the lottery’s deputy executive director of gaming compliance, during her presentation to the board during its quarterly meeting in Richmond.

More than 90% of the revenue came from the casino’s nearly 900 slot machines, which generated wagering of $34.57 million and winnings of $31.22 million.

Slots generated more than $600,000 in tax revenues and table games generated more than $71,200, Smith told the board.

The adjusted gaming revenue total included $100,000 raised during the July 5 and July 7 VIP events, Smith said. All of that money was donated to the United Way of Bristol Tennessee-Virginia.

“I want to say that being able to be part of this and open this in the commonwealth was truly a highlight of my career,” Smith told the board. “I have been asked why, and it’s because of the gaming compliance team … I have never worked with a better team. To the people who lived for three months in Bristol and worked nights, weekends and holidays and were on call whenever I needed them – to the people who stayed here to license everybody. If it wasn’t for them, this casino would have never been opened.”

Smith said her team spent the entire Fourth of July weekend licensing all of the casino personnel, which included finalizing background checks.

In response to a question, Smith said while Hard Rock hired some management personnel from other properties, virtually all of the employees working on the casino floor were from Virginia or Tennessee.

“I will tell you, being out and about, these individuals are thrilled to have these jobs. This is huge for them. They’re very excited,” Smith said. “The energy in that casino is amazing. A casino is a tough business to work in, but they are all energized right now.”

The full Hard Rock property, which is scheduled to open in 2024, is slated to have about 600 additional slot machines and more than twice as many table games.

Smith said her office has monthly meetings with the state’s other three voter-approved casino projects. Construction continues at Rivers Casino Portsmouth, which is holding a dealers training school in August. It is not yet licensed but is expected to open in early 2023.

The Norfolk casino project, run by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, expects to open its temporary facility in March of 2023, Smith said while the Caesars Danville location is now expected to open sometime in 2024.

In other matters, the Virginia Lottery reported $3.7 billion in lottery ticket sales during fiscal 2021-22, led by scratch tickets and online iLottery sales. Scratchers accounted for $1.32 billion in sales while iLottery was $1.27 billion, according to Executive Director Kelly T. Gee.

The lottery generated $777 million for public education during the previous year.

Sports wagering exceeded $2.1 billion during the first five months of 2022, Smith said, based on unaudited figures.

FanDuel is the state leader with 40.9% of all sports wagers, followed by Draft Kings at 22.1%, Bet MGM at 19.7% and Caesars at 9.1%. This year FanDuel has paid $9.2 million in taxes to the state, followed by Draft Kings at $2.1 million and Bet MGM at $1.5 million, Smith said.