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Interior rejects proposed Choctaw casino on Mississippi coast

Biloxi, Mississippi (AP) 1-08

The federal government has rejected a proposal by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians to build a casino in Jackson County.

The Choctaws were one of numerous tribes that received letters from the Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs recently rejecting their bids for off-reservation casinos, according to a www.sunherald.com article.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs said the site of the proposed casino in Jackson County on the Mississippi coast was too far from the reservation. Jackson County is 175 miles from the tribe’s primary reservation, which is in Neshoba County in central Mississippi.

A letter that the Bureau of Indian Affairs sent to Choctaw Chief Beasley Denson was dated Jan. 4 and said the tribe’s application failed to show the casino was necessary for the tribe’s self-determination, economic development or Indian housing.

Carl J. Artman, the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, said in the letter that the distance between the proposed site and the reservation might encourage people on the reservation to move away for job opportunities at the casino.

Jackson County is the only of three coastal counties in Mississippi where there are no casinos. The tribe had acquired land there and hoped to build a new gambling hall. The idea immediately prompted opposition.

Jackson County residents voted on the issue in November in a nonbinding referendum.

More than 18,000 voters, or about 60 percent, cast no votes . About 12,000 voters supported the plan to put the $375 million project at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Mississippi 57.

In the days before the election, Denson said a no vote would not end the tribe’s effort to put a casino on the coast.

Jackson County Supervisor John McKay said the federal government’s decision “puts another nail in the coffin on the casino.”

Now that the federal government has turned it down, “that should put it to rest forever,” he said.

 

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