Choctaw Tribe Members to Vote on Proposed Casino Expansion

Members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians will be able to cast their vote on whether they approve the construction of the tribe’s fourth casino this Thursday. The tribe currently owns the Golden Moon and Silver Star casinos in Choctaw and Bok Homa Casino near Laurel.

If approved by tribal members, the new casino will be located in Red Water. Phyliss J. Anderson, the Choctaw chief, has been the main backer of the casino expansion effort. It has been for several years now that the tribal official has been calling for the construction of a new gambling venue. According to Ms. Anderson, the new casino will be able to produce new revenue for the tribe and two create new job positions. She pointed out that annual revenue of $50 million and over 250 new jobs could be generated, if her effort is approved.

It was not before January 2017 that her proposal was backed by the Tribal Council. The next step is for the tribe’s more than 11,000 members to voice their opinion on the matter.

Cannibalization Fears and Opposition to the Project

Despite the promises for a new revenue source and jobs, concerns were voiced that the new gambling venue would cannibalize revenue from the existing gambling venues instead of creating new proceeds.

Under the proposal for the new casino, the property will be located just 25 miles away from the two gambling venues in Choctaw. According to Barry McMillan, a Tribal Council member and opponent of the proposed expansion, its location will create conditions for cannibalization of patrons and of revenue from the existing gambling venues. Mr. McMillan has commented that a different location should be chosen for the future casino, in case its construction is approved by tribal members.

The Tribal Council member has further pointed out that there is a big chance for the casino plan not to gain the necessary support as the voter turnout usually does not exceed 3,000 votes.

Mr. McMillan has also questioned the impartiality of a study on the benefits and disadvantages of the proposed casino expansion. According to him, the analysis was clearly supportive of the idea, as it said that without a new gambling venue, the tribe will be deprived of much-needed funding of different important services aimed for improving the life-quality of the growing tribal population.

The report further read that the tribe had to open a casino more than three years ago in order to benefit from $45 million in revenue contributions from the venue and from the new jobs it would have created.

The fairness of the upcoming election has also been questioned by Mr. McMillan and other casino opponents, while Ms. Anderson has been trying to convince the people involved that the process will be transparent and that voters are given the chance to make an informed choice.

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