Proposed Choctaw Casino Has Some Businesses Seeing Green

The Shed on Highway 57 is usually packed with people craving some good old southern BBQ. If a casino is built just a few miles down the road, owner Brad Orrison believes it will only attract more hungry customers to his restaurant.

"More traffic count, more tourists, and more things to do. When you are in business, that is the American Dream," Orrison said.

In November, the casino issue will be on the ballot in Jackson County.

The Mississippi Band of Choctaws wants to build a $375 million casino on its Highway 57 property. The tribal chief has said he won't pursue the plan without the support of the voters.

Though there have been many objections from area church leaders, the tribe seems to have some support from business owners.

"I would vote for it,"  REX Assistant Manager Travis Bass said.

Bass says a casino is a win-win situation for his Gautier electronics and appliance store, and the rest of the county.

"It will be pretty nice, close to home, will not have to travel as far, bring a lot of business to the city, and it might help it grow some more."

"I feel it is going to be a good and bad thing," Mike Poole says.

Poole owns Figaro's Pizza and says he hasn't made up his mind yet on a casino in Jackson County. He says he can see the potential for a small businesses like his Ocean Springs shop. But he also believes the Choctaw Indians should be required to share the profits with the community.

"All of the other casinos in the community invest in the community with taxes going to the public school system, or going to parks and recreation."

One thing that all three businessmen agree on is that the citizens of Jackson County should be heard on election day.

"We are a democracy. That is what America is all about," Poole said.

Governor Barbour has said in the past, he is opposed to expanding gaming to any new counties in Mississippi. Gaming is currently allowed in Harrison and Hancock Counties, and five counties along the Mississippi River.