Residents of Jackson County oppose the proposed Choctaw Casino watch the video here.
A proposed Indian casino is ruffling the feathers of some people in Jackson County, Miss. The Choctaw Indians want to built a casino resort south of I-10 near Ocean Springs, Miss. As NBC15's Andrea Ramey tells us, their plans for economic development has not exactly hit the jackpot.
The sound of slots machines dinging and pouring out quarters can't be heard now, but the bright twinkling casino lights could be catching your eye in the near future. Choctaw Indian leaders say that equates to thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue for Jackson County. "We are an economic engine. You know, their families might be working there," Choctaw Chief Beasley Denson said.
The proposal includes 1,100 hotel rooms, 2,300 slot machines, a large show theater, and a convention center, but when Choctaw Chief Denson layed it out on the table, the plan was met with some heated questions.
Opposition to the casino goes beyond the board room. A grassroots group in Jackson County is spreading messages that say, "How do you say not in my country in Choctaw," and "You pay taxes, they wont."
"It's like having a foreign country in your midst. They're not going to pay taxes, even though they say they're going to pay impact fees," grassroots organizer Cissy Jordan said.
Federal law said local and state governments can not tax Indian developments. Yet Choctaw leaders promise to pay a portion of their revenue, which would equate to $7 million a year. A jackpot many in Jackson County don't want to win. "We don't need them here," Jordan said.
"We've always had obstacles to do anything," Chief Denson said.
This obstacle is taking their fight to stickers on car bumpers and signs in front yards across the county in hopes of blocking the bright casino lights from ever coming to town.
The people of Jackson County will vote on the casino proposal in November. It will not decide anything. It's strictly a way to gage public opinion. It will be up to Governor Haley Barbour to make the final decision.
Cheif Denson has already reneged on promises made by his predecessor whose to say when the Choctaws elect a new chief he won't simply decide not to honor the impact fees Denson promised to pay.