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Mississippi Choctaws voting on proposal to create 4th casino

Members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians will vote on developing a fourth casino, which would be on tribal land at the center of the state.

Choctaws will decide Thursday whether to create a gambling site on tribal land in the Red Water community just north of Carthage, The Clarion-Ledger reported.

Red Water is about 23 miles (37 kilometers) west of two Choctaw casinos, the Silver Star and the Golden Moon, which are across a highway from each other outside Philadelphia. The other casino, Bok Homa, is on tribal land in Jones County, about 82 miles (132 kilometers) south of the Silver Star and the Golden Moon.

Choctaw Chief Phyliss J. Anderson said a new casino would create more than 250 jobs and about $50 million in annual revenue. She said the tribe has about 11,000 members now, up from about 5,200 in 1994.

“With the growing population and over 50 percent of the population under 25, the need for jobs is there,” Anderson said. “But what this casino will allow us to do is to use those funds to reinvest back into the tribe for government services.”

However, Tribal Council member Barry McMillan said the proposed project, in Anderson’s hometown, would take away business from existing casinos.

McMillan said opponents of the new casino have a good chance of winning because there are often fewer than 3,000 votes cast in a Choctaw election. He said 1,700 tribal members have backed effort to bring the issue to a vote.

He said the ballot contains a pro-casino financial analysis that mentions nothing about the expected loss of business to the Silver Star and the Golden Moon. The analysis also says the tribe “has already missed out on potential profits of more than $45 million” for failing to open three years ago.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission does not regulate Choctaw casinos. Twenty-eight non-Choctaw casinos operate in the state along the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast.

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