Federal prosecutors laid out what sounds like a scene out of a movie about organized crime. But for one California card room, it’s all too real.
The Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Bell Gardens now faces a fine of $500,000 because of the incident.
Prosecutors alleged that the casino broke the law when it filed forms attached to massive bets and the Bicycle’s management agreed in exchange for the feds dropping the case.
It isn’t the first time the property has been associated with potential money laundering, either.
Bicycle Hotel & Casino admits failure to report suspicious activity
According to Lukas I. Alpert of MarketWatch, the Bicycle Hotel & Casino now faces a $500,000 fine. In addition to that, the card room has agreed to take more measures to tighten its procedures.
It’s the result of a federal investigation into the gambling activity of one unnamed man in 2016. The report says that he made over 100 visits over a span of eight months that year. Oftentimes, he would arrive with duffle bags full of cash used to play baccarat.
Authorities stated the total amount of money gambled by the man came to approximately $100 million. That put his activity well over a legal limit for mandatory reporting measures. Gambling facilities like the Bicycle must report all instances of purchases of $10,000 or more in chips with cash to the US Department of the Treasury.
The casino did file the paperwork, but it did so in the name of the gambler’s assistant, not the gambler himself. That was what drew the gaze of federal investigators and now has cost the casino half a million dollars.
Such measures are in place to discourage money laundering. A classic scheme is to take cash from illegal transactions, purchase chips with them, then withdraw winnings as legitimate funds. While federal authorities may be satisfied now, that might not be the end of it.
California prosecution might await casino’s owner
A press release from the office of California Attorney General Rob Bonta said it “will seek to hold the casino’s owner responsible for state violations.” State law enforcement was part of the 2017 raid on the casino that has thus far resulted in the aforementioned fine.
That was the second action taken against the casino for money laundering issues. Just six years after it opened in 1984, authorities seized the casino and its operations because investigators alleged that laundered illegal drug money provided part of the funding for its construction.
The Bell Gardens Bicycle Club, Inc. owns the casino. It’s often a stop on the World Series of Poker Tour. That entity may now face additional prosecution from the state, and that might prove even more costly.
For example, similar prosecution in March of this year resulted in Artichoke Joe’s Casino in San Bruno agreeing to a fine of $5.3 million. Bonta’s office has announced rulings against three other CA card rooms since August.
In time, this might end up costing “the Bike” far more than $500,000. Hopefully, the next time someone walks into a Caliifornia card room with literal bags of cash, security will escort them out.