FBI Raid Bicycle Casino in 'Criminal Fraud' Investigation11 months ago
Poker players at the Bicycle Hotel & Casino were told to leave their chips on the table and exit immediately Tuesday morning by law enforcement who shut down the popular California card room due to allegations of money laundering.
The Los Angeles High Intensity Financial Crime Area Task Force administered the raid on 'The Bike' with search warrant in hand, blocking both parking lot entrances and ushering gamblers to the door. The 7 a.m. rousting took many by surprise at one of the most well-known poker rooms in the U.S., the L.A. Times reported.
The shutdown was somewhat brief in nature as the doors re-opened early Wednesday morning, about 20 hours later. The Bike honchos did their best to downplay the incident, releasing a statement in hopes of persuading gamblers to come on back and that business was being conducted as usual.
“We are serving our customers and resuming normal operations immediately. Our priority is to provide a safe and fun environment for our guests.”
No Handcuffs Used
Reports indicate that no arrests were made and that the investigation is ongoing. Financial records were seized by the task force, who were made up of agents from the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the California Department of Justice’s bureau of gambling control, and the U.S. attorney’s office.
Whether its casino employees or gamblers that the Feds are after has not been made clear. Also unknown is whether or not players who were booted out were allowed to reclaim their chips following the card room re-opening.
Gambling establishments are seen as ideal locations for money laundering by criminals who obtain cash illegally - through drug dealing or other nefarious activities. It isn't the first time a poker room has come under suspicion and you can bet that it won't be the last.
The Bicycle Hotel & Casino came under the microscope of law enforcement officials as far back as 1990 when the IRS and Drug Enforcement Administration alleged that laundered money was behind construction of the casino. A jury agreed in 1991, finding that drug smugglers based in Florida were responsible for millions of dollars of backing.
About The Bike
Located in Bell Gardens, not far from L.A., The Bike offers 185 tables of poker and card games and is home to the WPT Legends of Poker tournament. Cash games known as "Live at the Bike" are streamed live from the locale. PokerTube readers have seen dozens of videos of that action.
Casino management indicated that full cooperation with the Feds regarding the investigation has been established.
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