Young dancers from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Photo: Natalie Maynor

Mississippi Choctaws hail vote against new casino as they await official tally

Citizens of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians have rejected plans for a new casino although the results have yet to be finalized.

According to unofficial results, 65 percent of voters opposed the Red Water Casino. Every community on the reservation was against it, except for Red Water in Leake County, where the facility would be located.

But in order for the referendum to count as official, at least 40 percent of registered voters must have participated. The tally posted by Chahta for Better Government, a group that opposes the casino, shows the threshold barely being met, assuming nearly all of the ballots, including absentees, are legitimate.

"IT IS VERY, VERY CLOSE," the group wrote on Facebook. The final results are expected to be made available on Friday afternoon.

If the threshold isn't met, some citizens are concerned the tribe will go ahead and build the casino. But Chief Phyliss J. Anderson issued a statement to the Mississippi media indicating that she would respect the outcome.

"We will continue to explore other opportunities to build on our existing success for our tribe," Anderson said in the statement, WTOK reported.

The tribe's flagship gaming facility is the Pearl River Resort, which consists of two separate casinos. It's about 30 miles from the Red Water site.

The tribe also operates the Bok Homa Casino in a satellite community about 100 miles away. Plans call for Red Water to be similar in size to that facility.

Opponents of the new casino question whether it will draw revenues away from the existing facilities on the reservation and whether it will add more to the tribe's debt level. Supporters, including the chief, cited the potential for new jobs in Red Water.

Read More on the Story:
MBCI votes 'no' on casino, TEC will determine official results (WTOK November 16, 2017)
Choctaws vote not to build new casino (Mississippi News Now November 16, 2017)
Choctaw voters say 'no' to Red Water casino; official results coming Friday (WTVA November 17, 2017)
Choctaws reject possible new casino (The Jackson Clarion-Ledger November 17, 2017)

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