The Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Los Angeles County Could Be Set for Major Renovation

Posted on: May 16, 2022, 11:06h. 

Last updated on: May 16, 2022, 11:50h.

The Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Bell Gardens, Ca., located just a few miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, is reportedly set for a considerable renovation.

Bicycle Hotel & Casino California cardroom Bike
The exterior of The Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Los Angeles County. The California cardroom recently changed ownership, and big changes are reportedly in the works. (Image: ABC7)

The Bike, as the California cardroom is commonly called, was sold in April for $103 million. The buyer is Parkwest Casinos, a cardroom owner-operator controlled by John Park.

Park was a minority owner in The Bicycle prior to the acquisition. The sellers were real estate firms Carter Management Group and Thousand Palms Enterprises.

The Bike features a 100,000-square-foot cardroom, 99-room hotel, a spa, entertainment space, and several restaurants and bars. The Real Deal, an online media outlet focused on real estate news, reports that Parkwest Casinos has secured much more financing than needed to complete the $103 million acquisition.

Instead, Parkwest has entered into a loan agreement with Comerica Bank for a line of credit totaling $210 million. That could suggest that Parkwest plans to substantially renovate and/or expand the iconic California cardroom.

A gaming and hospitality investor just scored big bucks to buy a casino and hotel in Bell Gardens, with enough left over to suggest bigger ambitions,” wrote Isabella Farr, who covers Los Angeles for The Real Deal.

Los Angeles businessman Sam Gilbert opened The Bike in November of 1984. Four years later, US federal authorities brought allegations against the real estate developer that he used laundered drug money to finance the casino’s construction.

Gilbert died four days after being indicted. The US government took control of the casino in 1990 after concluding that Gilbert used $12 million in dirty money to build the original casino. It was later sold to private interests.

The Bicycle underwent a major expansion in 2015 that resulted in the seven-story hotel tower. California only has tribal casinos and commercial cardrooms, the latter being lawfully permitted to operate non-house-banked card games.

Bike Name Change

Parkwest Casinos has cardrooms in Livermore, Rancho Cordova, Lodi, Sacramento, and Sonoma. The company’s acquisition of The Bike is its first casino investment in Southern California.

Parkwest reportedly plans to rename The Bicycle to Parkwest Bicycle Casino. Though Parkwest has not publicly confirmed those rumors, documents filed with the California Gambling Control Commission (CGCC), which regulates cardrooms, suggests the name change is forthcoming.

Specific details surrounding the $210 million in secured financing for Parkwest’s takeover of The Bike remains a mystery. The loan leaves around $107 million in financing left over following the company’s completion of The Bike purchase.

Checkered Past

The Bicycle Hotel & Casino’s run-ins with the law are not isolated to Gilbert. It was just in 2017 that the cardroom was raided by federal officials on suspicions that the casino was being used by numerous bad actors to launder money.

The years-long investigation concluded with The Bicycle agreeing last year to pay $500,000 to the federal government for anti-money laundering shortcomings. The investigation was a multi-department probe involving the US Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Internal Revenue Service, Attorney’s General Office, and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).