Bristol, Virginia Casino Developers Donate $310,000 to State Political Campaigns

Posted on: October 21, 2019, 06:12h. 

Last updated on: October 21, 2019, 11:06h.

Virginia state legislators so far have gotten over $310,000 in contributions through a new political action committee (PAC) from the developers of the proposed Bristol Resort and Casino, according to news reports.

Jim McGlothlin, president of The United Co., is one of two partners leading an effort to bring a casino to Bristol, Virginia. (Image: Bristol Herald Courier)

The Betting on Virginia Jobs PAC donated $311,500 to 50 state Senate and House campaigns during August and September, the Bristol Herald Courier reported, citing data from the Virginia Public Access Project.

To support the commercial casino cause, Jim McGlothlin, president of The United Co., and Clyde Stacy, CEO of Par Ventures, set up the PAC. Each paid $50,000 earlier this year for the committee’s founding.

Since then, either individually or through their companies, the men in total have donated $450,000 to the PAC, the Herald Courier said.

United Co. gave $225,000.  Stacy contributed $125,000. Par Ventures gave $100,000.

As of earlier this year, Bristol Casino Resort employed eight registered lobbyists. They advocate on behalf of the Bristol casino to politicians and the public.

State legislators gave initial backing for the $250 million Bristol Resort and Casino — which if supported by local voters and re-enacted later by the legislature — could be located in the vacant Bristol Mall, located near the Virginia-Tennessee border.

We know first-hand the significant challenges our local economy faces,” the Bristol casino developers said in a recent statement. “These contributions help make sure our elected officials in Richmond also understand these challenges and the importance of finding solutions to these issues.

“This project will benefit residents in Bristol and across Southwest Virginia by bringing much-needed new jobs and additional tax revenue to the region,” the statement adds. “The PAC was formed for those interested in helping advocate for bringing jobs and economic development to the cities contemplated in the legislation allowing for casinos.”

As envisioned, the 90,000-square foot casino could lead to 5,200 new jobs. There would be non-gaming attractions at the venue, too.

Casinos Proposed for Five Virginia Cities

The Bristol proposal was included in a bill that gave Bristol, as well as Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Richmond preliminary approval by Virginia’s General Assembly to open a casino. The legislature is expected to vote again on the casino proposal next year under the re-enactment process required by the state on many controversial issues.

Currently, the state is undertaking an extensive government study on the casino plan. The study is scheduled to be released in December.

Local referendums also need to be held in each of the cities approved for a casino. The votes are possible next year.

The proposal calls for the cities and their surrounding regions to get additional tax revenue from the casinos. The Bristol casino would provide $26.8 million in tax dollars to the city annually, according to early estimates.

Casino developers also project gambling revenues from the venue to be about $150 million in the first year of operation. Non-gaming revenue will total about $106 million in the first year.

As planned, the Virginia Lottery Board would oversee gambling in the Old Dominion state. The board still must write up relevant regulations.

Competing Casinos Possible

If built, the Bristol venue could find competition from a proposed casino in Jenkins, Kentucky, according to WCYB TV. But for now, state politicians in Kentucky disagree over gambling expansion in the state.

Tennessee could also have rival gaming venues. But so far, politicians there have not backed commercial brick and mortar casinos.

Beyond potential commercial casinos in neighboring states, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe wants to set up two tribal casinos in Virginia. Earlier this year, the Norfolk City Council approved a Pamunkey tribal plan to build a $700 million integrated resort along the city’s waterfront.

Currently, Virginia is one of eight US states without any tribal or commercial casinos.