Supervisors Not Happy With New Choctaw Chief's Comments On Gaming

The new Choctaw chief has only made one real comment about the idea of an Indian casino in Jackson County.

"Whatever decision we make, it'll be based on what the Choctaw people desire to have or desires what they want," Chief Beasley Denson said.

Those words are not what Supervisor John McKay wanted to hear from the new chief.

"I do not think he would want to shoot himself in the foot and alienate the Board of Supervisors or the people of Jackson County," McKay said.

McKay represents District 5, which includes the area on Highway 57 where former Chief Philip Martin had proposed building a $325 million casino resort.

Martin had promised to move forward only if Jackson County voters favored Indian gaming. McKay says he is shocked the new tribal leader would dismiss that pledge so quickly.

"We do not want to be on a battle ground, so to speak. We want to able to work with them."

Supervisor Frank Leach agrees. Leach has written Chief Denson a letter asking him to meet with the board on the gaming issue.

"I am ready and available, and I am sure our board, as well as our economical foundation would be ready and willing to try to meet to discuss this," Leach said.

At this point, neither Leach nor McKay have a clear answer as to whether the new chief even wants to pursue a casino development in Jackson County. They hope to convince Denson that an Indian casino development is more than just a Choctaw decision.

The supervisors say the people of Jackson County deserve have a voice.

"I certainly just don't believe that it is his people who ought to be making a decision as to what impacts Jackson County, Mississippi," Leach said.

"We want to work with him, not against him and we want the people of Jackson County to have the final say as to whether they want a casino or not,' McKay said.

Even if a majority of Jackson County residents vote "yes" to a Choctaw casino, Governor Haley Barbour would still have to approve it. And Barbour has openly said he does not want a casino in Jackson County.