The Press

Bicycle Casino reopens after raid by federal officials

BELL GARDENS — The Bicycle Hotel and Casino resumed normal operations April 5 following a federal raid of the casino the day before.

Casino officials announced on their website that the casino would be open “and in full operation” as of 3 a.m., after federal authorities raided the casino for a search that the Los Angeles Times reported was linked to the launch of a money-laundering investigation. No arrests were reported.

“Our priority is to provide a safe and fun environment for our guests,” the website statement said.

Federal officials did not provide details about the search, attributing the lack of available information to the search warrant being under seal.

“The search warrant issued by a United States magistrate judge was filed under seal in relation to an ongoing investigation,” said Virginia Kice of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Because the warrant is under seal, we are not able to comment on the scope or nature of the investigation.”

Authorities told The Times that investigators seized thousands of financial records.

The probe began when agents entered the casino’s main floor around 7 a.m. April 4. It is focusing on whether individuals used the club to launder funds by placing bets with dirty money before exchanging their chips for clean cash, The Times reported.

Under the Bank Secrecy Act, casinos are required to implement and maintain programs designed to prevent criminals from using the clubs to launder the large sums of cash that illegal activity can generate.

For example, casinos must record and report to the government the details of transactions involving more than $10,000 by any one gambler in a 24-hour period.

Founded in the mid-1980s, the Bicycle Club was seized in 1990 by the federal government after investigators said the club was partly built with laundered drug money.

Federal authorities last year investigated the Gardena card club formerly known as the Normandie Casino for violating anti-money laundering laws.

The partnership that ran the Normandie was ordered to pay about $2.4 million to settle federal charges that the poker club failed to report large cash transactions to federal authorities, as required.

As part of an agreement with the government, the four partners agreed to pay a $1 million fine and to forfeit nearly $1.4 million for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and conspiring to avoid reporting to the government the large cash transactions of some of the casino’s “high-roller” gamblers.

Adult entertainment mogul Larry Flynt bought the gaming license for the club on Rosecrans Avenue in Gardena last summer for an undisclosed price and renovated the aging facility, which he renamed Larry Flynt’s Lucky Lady Casino. It recently reopened.