The mayor of Bristol, Virginia, expressed his support for the state’s first casino on Aug. 7, the Bristol Herald Courier reported. Neal Osborne spoke about the casino at the seventh annual State of the Cities address. Bristol is known as the Twin City because it stretches across the state line to Tennessee, a state that also doesn’t permit casinos.
As Virginia Business documented in October 2018, local businessmen and longtime friends Jim McGlothlin and Clyde Stacy announced that they want to turn the vacant Bristol Mall into a hotel and casino. Another Virginia casino proposal is afloat in Portsmouth, about 400 miles to the east of Bristol near the Atlantic Ocean. And the commonwealth is also warming up to slots-style machines.
McGlothlin’s and Stacy’s project is for a 100,000-square-foot casino, which would also contain an array of other entertainment options, including a go-kart track, a water park, and a live entertainment venue. The entrepreneurs said they feel that a casino would help the Bristol economy, which has taken a hit from the decline of the coal industry, and it seems that the mayor agrees.
On Wednesday, Osborne explained the positive effects the project could have, the Herald Courier reported.
“Jim McGlothlin and Clyde Stacy are proposing investing $250 million in opening a regional tourist attraction right here in Bristol. As icing on that cake, they’re wanting to repurpose our Bristol Mall. If the legislation is approved by the General Assembly and signed by the governor, this project has the potential to create 5,000 jobs.
“These jobs will pay well and afford people the opportunity to have a fresh start and a new way of life.”
Osborne isn’t the only Virginia mayor pushing for the project to come to fruition. Former Roanoke Mayor David A. Bowers wrote an op-ed in July for the Herald Courier, expressing his support for the casino. Bowers said that bringing a casino to Bristol is a good business move that would make the city a tourist attraction.
Bowers also said a casino would bring thousands of jobs to the area in the form of car rental businesses, new restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and the like.
Maryland and West Virginia, two states that border Virginia, already have casinos. As the Herald Courier reported in December 2018, Jim McGlothlin said that the project needs to move swiftly because other neighboring states, like Kentucky, are moving to legalize real money casinos and Virginia will “lose out on a tax revenue windfall” if they don’t act now.
During the State of the Cities Address, Osborne said that the hotel and casino would bring in an estimated annual tax revenue of $25 million, so many people are expecting a positive outcome of an upcoming public referendum on the casino.