SANDERSVILLE – The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is scheduled to open its new casino Dec. 20 on tribal land near the south Mississippi town of Sandersville.
The Bok Homa Casino project in Jones County has drawn sharp opposition from religious groups and some political leaders, including Gov. Haley Barbour.
Tribal spokesman Warren Strain confirmed the opening date for the 27,000-square-foot casino, and said about 300 employees have been hired, including about 70 members of the tribe. About 20 more workers could be hired.
Research by the state attorney general’s office concluded in late July that a tribal compact signed in 1992 by then-Gov. Kirk Fordice protects the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians’ right to build gaming establishments on tribal lands.
A group called the Coalition for Family and Community Values has said it worries the casino could have negative economic or social effects on the area. The group drafted a letter to the Jones County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 4.
“The Coalition … is truly concerned about the many expenses that will be brought about because of this development,” the letter said. “We therefore call on the Jones County Board of Supervisors to disclose the true and actual costs associated with this project and who will be paying for them.”
Coalition spokesman Cal Callen said the group has yet to hear a detailed response from the board. The coalition’s letter mentions necessary upgrades in roads, bridges, sewer systems, electrical systems and emergency response systems.
Strain said the Choctaws have reached agreements with several Jones County volunteer fire departments and have planned to widen the roads for access to the rural casino site.
Jones County Board of Supervisors President Andy Dial confirmed the tribe has agreed to fund widening the road leading to the casino.
Strain also said the tribe drilled its own wells for water service and has sewer plans in place. He said the tribe was still talking with the board about bridges leading to the site.
Dial said the bridges are currently sufficient for car traffic, but large trucks would have to use alternate routes.
The Associated Press