Bicycle Hotel & Casino Reopens After Raid By Feds
Less than 24 hours after being raided and shut down by federal agents, the Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Bell Gardens was reopened Wednesday morning, according to information reportedly provided to the Los Angeles Times by law enforcement officials.
One of Southern California’s largest gambling rooms, the facility was raided by investigators from the Los Angeles High Intensity Financial Crime Area Task Force when they entered the casino’s main floor and seized thousands of financial records during a money-laundering investigation.
The casino said in a statement, “We are serving our customers and resuming normal operations immediately,” and, “Our priority is to provide a safe and fun environment for our guests,” according to the Times.
Betting ended abruptly at the casino at approximately 7 am on Tuesday morning and the facility was closed for about 20 hours. Agents from the task force, which includes investigators from Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. attorney’s office, and the California Department of Justice’s bureau of gambling control, led the raid.
The focus of the probe will be whether the club was used by individuals to launder funds by using dirty money to place bets before trading in their chips for clean cash, according to what the news agency was reportedly told by law enforcement sources that are familiar with the investigation.
While declining to comment on “the scope or nature of the investigation,” ICE spokeswoman, Virginia Kice, did say that a “search warrant issued by a United States magistrate judge was filed under seal in relation to an ongoing investigation,” according to the Times report.
Casino spokeswoman, Becky Warren, said that management was “cooperating with authorities,” but she declined to add to her statement at the time.
It’s not the first time the Bicycle has been the focus of law enforcement efforts. Control of the casino was seized by the IRS and the Drug Enforcement Administration in April 1990 after authorities discovered the casino’s construction was financed with laundered drug money. A jury found that Florida drug smugglers had funded $12 million of the $22 million in construction costs. Partial ownership of the casino was taken over by the federal government in 1991, with its share eventually being sold to a British gaming company five years later. By the time the government had sold its share of the Bicycle Club in 1996, it had reportedly made a substantial profit from its share of the casino.
The casino, which was founded by George Hardie Sr. in 1984, is now privately owned by Bicycle Hotel & Casino LLC and is host to the Word Poker Tour (WPT) and the World Series of Poker (WSOP).