- Associated Press - Monday, December 21, 2015

HEIDELBERG, Miss. (AP) - On Dec. 20, 2010, the slots were spinning for the first time at Bok Homa Casino - and it was an occasion to remember, with parachuting Santas and an appearance by “Mr. Las Vegas” himself, Wayne Newton.

This year marks the fifth anniversary for the casino on Choctaw tribal lands and the slots are still spinning and table games have been added. Officials have even more plans for Bok Homa, according to the Hattiesburg American (https://hatne.ws/1MrHYLy ).

When it opened, the 27,000-square-foot casino run by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians had had to weather countless efforts by local and state officials - including then-Gov. Haley Barbour - to stop construction of the casino. Officials cited legal, health and safety concerns.

Today, the casino is expanding.

In October, Bok Homa added table games to its lineup and it plans to add more table games in the next few months.



Sonny Johnson, interim president and CEO at Bok Homa, says bringing in table games has provided a boost in attendance at Bok Homa.

The casino did not release information such as the number of annual visitors and the geographic area from which the casino is pulling. Casinos owned and operated by Choctaws also do not report winnings to the state.

In addition to table games, Bok Homa built an events center in trailers right outside the casino building within the past year.

“This events center allows us to hold a lot more of events on site here, such as rewards events for our players, and it is even where we trained our new dealers when we were bringing in table games earlier this year,” Johnson said.

Gamblers say they enjoy the improvements made to Bok Homa.

“I’ve been coming here for about six months, but I started coming more often after they added blackjack,” Robert Clark, 23, said. “I mean, I come here because it’s the closest casino around. However, I have been to a few on the Gulf Coast, and I still enjoy Bok Homa. It’s all good.”

Other expansion plans being considered are to bring in newer slot games and adding another restaurant to the casino. Bok Homa now has a quick-serve eatery named Lucky’s.

Within the first year of opening, profits from the casino had paid off its $18 million price tag, according to previous reports.

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Information from: The Hattiesburg American, https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

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