94 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI gambling wide open along the Mississippi Coast. The population of the county in 1958 was 11,000, with 4,600 living in Bay St. Louis. In that city, practically every barroom and other businesses had slot machines in them for locals and tourists alike. Gambling continued in a more-or-less backroom atmosphere in Hancock County until after the passage of the National Indian Gaming Act in 1988 by the United States Congress. With this precedent, on June 29, 1990, the Mississippi legislature passed the Mississippi Gaming Control Act, allowing for dockside gambling if approved by the voters of a community. In 1991, a Dockside Gaming Study for Hancock County was part of a larger movement for downtown development in Bay St. Louis and other communities. This was a comprehensive plan for Hancock County economic development that explored all options, including casino gambling. Casino Magic received the green light to proceed with its planned construction in Hancock County, and in 1992 opened with about 125,000 square feet of space and approximately 40,000 square feet of casino floor. It had 1,130 slot machines and sixty-four gaming tables. An initial staff of about 400 people operated the casino. For the first six months of Casino Magic’s operation, Hancock County received $336,488 from taxes. Casino Magic was heavily damaged in Hurricane Katrina, which hit the coast in 2005, and became inoperable. Three casinos run today in Hancock County offering amenities to guests and multiple gambling opportunities. Harrison County also took advantage of the tourist trade. During the first half of the twentieth century, many grand hotels appeared in the region, catering to the Northerners who came south in the winter months to play on the Coast, especially on its golf courses. Even President Woodrow Wilson spent a Christmas season along the Mississippi Coast at what was thereafter referred to as the Dixie White House in Pass Christian. The Broadwater Beach, Edgewater, White House, Markham, Great Southern, Tivoli, Pine Hills, and Buena Vista all provided entertainment, golf “links,” good seafood, and relaxation for their guests. Some of the grand hotels even offered air-conditioning to their guests by the 1920s. The Buena Vista also provided boat rides to the Isle of Caprice, just beyond the Mississippi Sound limits of the state boundary. There visitors could enjoy dancing, drinking, and gambling in a resort-like setting. The Isle of Caprice disappeared into the Gulf of Mexico in 1932 and does not exist anymore because of tidal movements, shifting winds, and man-made disasters. The Walter Hunt family, however, still claims ownership rights today if it were ever to reappear. In 1925, the tourist boom resulted in the construction of the Pine Hills Resort on the Bay of St. Louis north of Pass Christian. It had an eighteen-hole golf course and a 173- room hotel. The hotel alone cost $1.35 million to build. The owners expended another $200,000 for the furnishings. For several years this resort rivaled others until a bridge across the Bay of St. Louis diverted traffic, and the stock market crashed. The new bridge was approximately two miles long and connected Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian. Its dedication on March 2, 1928, was a day of celebration, but no one realized the detrimental effect it would have on the Pine Hills development. The new bridge and road completely bypassed the resort. The majestic hotel was torn down in the late 1980s after several financial difficulties and attempts to revive it failed. All that is left is the brick entranceway. Gambling along the Harrison County shores was well known even if it was illegal throughout the twentieth century. Hotels offered illegal liquor and gambling opportunities, particularly slot machines, to their patrons. During the Great Depression years, gambling in Harrison County fueled the economy, and by 1950, with the opening of U.S. Highway 90 along the coast of Mississippi, nightclubs lined that travel corridor and entertainers such as Elvis Presley, Andy Griffith, and Jayne Mansfield appeared in those establishments. The Strip, as it was known, offered all means of entertainment. By the early 1950s, however, that would begin to change. In 1951, the U.S. Senate Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce began hearings to assess the extent of organized crime. Officials at KeeslerAir Force Base, established in Biloxi in 1941, were concerned about the 327 businesses along the Strip that could adversely influence theAir Force personnel.As a result, gambling operations began to decline even though some establishments remained that offered games of chance. When Hurricane Camille struck the coast in 1969, the gambling industry did not recover. With the development of the Gulf Hills Resort by Chicago investors in 1926, Ocean Springs became even more popular for people to visit. Later in the 1950s, visitors such as Elvis Presley came to Gulf Hills.