In Mississippi, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is reportedly facing the prospect of being required to hold a tribal referendum to officially ratify a proposition that would see it spend about $25 million in order to construct its new Red Water Casino.

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is the only federally-recognized tribe in the southern state and leaders for the 10,800-strong group announced in late-January that they had approved plans to construct the new casino in central Leake County offering around 500 slots as well as ten gaming tables.

However, local television broadcaster WTOK-TV recently reported that opposition to the Red Water Casino proposal has grown due to the amount of debt the tribe will be required to take on while a group known as Chahta for Better Government this week submitted about 1,700 signatures calling for an official referendum to be held on the issue.

“We really don’t think it’s a risk we want to take to add on more debt,” Nikki Comby, a member of Chahta For Better Government, told the broadcaster. “We were told there was going to be no new money borrowed [but] now we know that’s not correct. We have a Choctaw Resort Development Enterprise resolution that states [the tribe] will borrow $25 million.”

WTOK-TV reported that the names on the Chahta For Better Government petition are currently in the process of being verified by tribal leaders while the broadcaster revealed that a successful outcome could see a referendum on the Red Water Casino plan scheduled before the end of July.

“Our final count was 1,730 submitted,” Comby told the broadcaster before explaining that her group had been required to collect 1,612 names in order to get the referendum held. “Now we know right off the bat that some of those are going to be kicked out because they either were not registered or registered late. We want people to actively voice their constitutional right to vote. Don’t be afraid. We can do this.”

The Mississippi Band Of Choctaw Indians, which refinanced its existing gaming debts in November, is already responsible via its Choctaw Resort Development Enterprise Incorporated venture for the Silver Star Resort Casino and the Golden Moon Casino at Neshoba County’s Pearl River Resort as well as the Bok Homa Casino in Jones County along with the nearby Dancing Rabbit Inn and the Geyser Falls Water Theme Park. Chief Phyliss Anderson reportedly declared that the loan required to build the Red Water Casino would be paid off within 18 months of opening the new venue with the project set to create as many as 200 new jobs.

The broadcaster reported that Anderson further revealed that the opening of the planned 35,800 sq ft Red Water Casino would see the tribe able to better compete with ever-increasing competition and pay down its overall debts quicker.

“It will allow us to reduce our debt in faster time,” Anderson told WTOK-TV.