Denson says failure of Jackson Co. casino doesn’t end interest in coast

Published 6:11 pm Friday, November 2, 2007

The chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaws says the tribe’s interest in locating a casino on the coast will not end if a nonbinding gaming vote fails Tuesday in Jackson County.

Beasley Denson, who prefers to be called “Miko,” the Choctaw word for chief, has been making a series of speeches in Jackson County this week in support of the nonbinding referendum on the tribe’s proposed casino in Jackson County.

Denson said Wednesday after a speech to the Pascagoula Rotary Club that he is optimistic local residents will support the casino.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“If it fails we will talk to the governor and see what are the parameters we have in the future. Who’s to say we might not build in Harrison or Hancock counties?” Denson said. “Then we become just another casino.”

Gov. Haley Barbour has said he will not approve a pact with the tribe to open a casino in Jackson County, where gaming has twice been voted down. The Bureau of Indian Affairs would also have to give its approval.

The tribe has proposed a $375 million casino resort on 100 acres at Mississippi Highway 57 and Interstate 10.

“I think he would need to look at the opportunity that exists for Jackson County,” Denson said of Barbour’s stance.

Denson said the Choctaws would contribute the same 4 percent of gross gaming revenue the commercial casinos pay to local governments, and the county and local communities would decide how to split the money.

Denson said most employees of the casino will be non-Indian and the 2,800 full-time jobs would have a payroll of $71 million per year.

“Revenue and profits from the Choctaw Indian casino will stay here and be reinvested in Mississippi,” Denson said.