DANVILLE, Va. — Officials with Caesars Entertainment broke ground Thursday on the new Caesars Virginia Casino and Resort in Danville, a new development expected to have a large impact on Danville and the entire region.
The $650 million project will be a full-service entertainment facility that will create thousands of construction and operational jobs and is scheduled to open in late 2024.
It is being built on the former site of the Dan River Mills where officials say thousands previously worked.
"We know it's not easy to let go of that past," said Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones. "However, we cannot go back. We can create a path forward of new life and a strong future for the citizens of this city."
Caesars Virginia will include a 500-room hotel and a world-class casino gaming floor with 1,300 slots, 85 live table games, 24 electronic table games, a WSOP poker room and a Caesars Sportsbook.
The resort will feature a full-service spa, pool, high-quality bars and restaurants, a 2,500-seat state-of-the-art live entertainment theater and 40,000 square feet of meeting and convention center space.
"We lost textile, we lost manufacturing, that's the sad news," said Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones. "But this is exciting news, (a) casino with a number of (people) we are going to hire, over $650 million invested in our community, how much more exciting can you get?"
Caesars, the largest domestic casino-entertainment company with more than 50 owned and managed properties, will serve as the manager of the casino.
"It's a great opportunity to be in Virginia, there (were) a few sites in Virginia and we are fortunate that the city of Danville selected Caesars and we are happy to be here," said Robert Livingston, senior vice-president for Caesar's Entertainment.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is also now a partner in the project.
"This venture is a vital opportunity for our nation and our people. We are excited to be expanding our longstanding and successful partnership with Caesars Entertainment to develop a first-class resort that will be defined by luxury and service that Caesars' guests have known and come to expect," Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Richard Sneed said.
Earlier this year, Livingston told the Danville city council that to be open by the end of 2023 is unrealistic and that 2024 is when it will be able to open.
“The Dec.1, 2023, anticipated opening date we all wanted, it’s going to be an unrealistic goal, it’s just not gonna happen,” Livingston said.
Upon its completion in 2024, Caesars Virginia will attract visitation from new customers and existing members of the best-in-class Caesars Rewards player loyalty program who reside in the broader Danville region and across the country.
"We are excited to build a world-class Caesars resort in Danville with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, a valued partner of Caesars Entertainment for more than 20 years," President and Chief Operating Officer for Caesars Entertainment, Anthony Carano said.
Rockingham County officials expect their area to see a boost.
"Just the entertainment value of a casino, whether you gamble or not, the opportunity for restaurants, entertainment and I think that's a big piece to helping us recruit not only companies but folks to come and live in Rockingham County," said Leigh Cockram, the director of economic, small business and tourism development for Rockingham County.
Cockram said Rockingham County could see more residential growth and more business development as well with the new casino.
"We are excited," Cockram said. "We think that the casino is going to have a great impact on Rockingham County with the anticipation of millions of visitors to Danville every year."