Should the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians pay state taxes on its gaming operations in Neshoba County?
Sen. Jack Gordon, a Democrat from Okolona who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, thinks so. In recent days, he has questioned the fairness of the state’s compact with the tribe, which allowed it to build the Silver Star Resort and Casino, and to develop the Pearl River Resort, which includes the Dancing Rabbit Golf Club and will include the Golden Moon Hotel and Casino now under construction and scheduled to open in 2002.
The Choctaws’ forays into gaming and tourism have been wildly successful, and have allowed them to reach a level of self-sufficiency unimaginable a decade ago. Slowly, after decades of poverty, the tribe is achieving success and fulfilling dreams.
Along the way, the economic impact has been tremendous. Although not taxed directly by the state, the gaming, the restaurants, resort and golf have drawn visitors from around the Southeast and, for that matter, the world. Business is bustling in Philadelphia, Neshoba County and Central Mississippi, and a large part of it is fueled by the Choctaw projects. The tribe is making a fair contribution to Mississippi.
Any attempt by the state to grab a piece of the tribe’s success would be foolish and a waste of time. Resolving Mississippi’s budget problems requires clear thinking, sacrifice and leadership from a legislative body that appears to be short on all three of those qualities.
So, back to our original question: Should the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians pay state taxes on its gaming operations in Neshoba County?