The Clarion-Ledger, 2/27/8

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians will continue to push for an off-reservation casino resort, but a project proposed for Jackson County is unlikely to gain approval during Gov. Haley Barbour’s tenure.

Tribal Chief Beasley Denson said Tuesday he will join other tribes in questioning a recent federal decision that disallowed off-reservation casino resorts. If the Bureau of Indian Affairs changes its position, the tribe will still need approval from the governor.

Barbour spokesman Pete Smith said the governor is still “against the expansion of gaming beyond the counties that already have it.”

A letter sent from Indian Affairs to Denson and to 10 other tribes requesting off-reservation casinos said the 60-acre site near Ocean Springs is too far from the Choctaws’ reservation in Neshoba County, located in central Mississippi. Officials said it could harm the reservation by prompting tribal members to relocate to Jackson County for casino jobs. They also said the Choctaws failed to show the casino is necessary for the tribe’s benefit.