|The Bicycle Hotel & Casino|
|Address||888 Bicycle Casino Drive
Bell Gardens, California 90201
|Opening date||November 30, 1984|
|Previous names||The Bicycle Casino|
|Renovated in||2015 (Hotel Addition)|
The Bicycle Hotel & Casino (commonly, “The Bike“) is a poker cardroom in California.
Founded by George Hardie Sr. in 1984, located in Bell Gardens, California, The Bicycle Casino offers a selection of poker games and Asian games, with a wide range of limits. The casino features games including: Blackjack, Texas Hold ‘Em, Seven Card Stud, Omaha hold ’em, Mexican Poker, Pai Gow Poker, Three Card Poker and Baccarat (card game).
Financing to build the original Bicycle Club casino was provided by Sam Gilbert, who allegedly used money partially obtained from laundering drug money.
The casino is home to the Legends of Poker, a tournament series established in 1995 that now includes a stop on the World Poker Tour. Prior to the Legends, the casino’s main tournament series was called the Diamond Jim Brady.
Seizure and indictment
In 1987, Sam Gilbert was the subject of a federal investigation into money laundering and racketeering charges. According to the investigation, a scheme to launder the money received from smuggling marijuana was put together to finance the construction of the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, California. According to one criminal complaint,
“[Sam Gilbert] a wealthy Los Angeles businessman, was the first Gilbert to establish ties with the Kramer family when he befriended Benjamin Kramer’s father, Jack Kramer, in 1978. At that time, Jack Kramer and Sam Gilbert came up with the idea of building a legal card club for the purposes of laundering Benjamin Kramer’s dirty money. By 1983, Sam Gilbert was in contact with David Pierson, who was himself thinking of building a card club and was looking for legitimate investors. Pierson gave Sam Gilbert a prospectus, Sam liked what he saw, and Sam agreed to arrange the financing for the project in return for a sixty percent share of Pierson’s ownership interest in the Club.”
Gilbert was indicted in Miami 4 days after his death. His son Michael also was indicted.
The U.S. Government seized the casino in April, 1990, after a jury found that $12 million of the $22 million used in its construction came from Florida drug smugglers. The club’s profits were frozen and placed in a special U.S. Marshals account until the court held a civil hearing to determine which partners knew that the club was built with drug money.
George Hardie and The Park Place Associates ownership were exonerated in 1990, and they regained their 35% stake.
In July 1991 a Florida federal judge ruled that at least one of the partners, former Los Angeles Westside banker M. Dale Lyon, knew about the club’s financing. Eight other partners in the LCP Associates, the partnership named for Lyon, Coyne and Pierson, agreed to forfeit portions of their interest in the club before the civil hearing began. LCP partners Julianne Coyne and former California Assemblyman David C. Pierson settled before the civil hearing. In 1991, they agreed to give up about half of their interest in LCP, which had a 65% stake in the casino.
By the time it sold its share of the casino in 1996, the US government had made tens of millions of dollars in profit from its share of the casino. As a partner in the club, the government also contributed to political campaigns to defeat the proposal to build a rival card club in Orange County.
The casino was again raided by federal authorities citing money laundering as a part of an ongoing investigation into some players using the casino to exchange “dirty money” for chips, then turn cashing those in for “clean money.”
Live at the Bike
The Bicycle Hotel & Casino was the first brick and mortar casino to broadcast a live poker cash game over the Internet in a program known as Live at the Bike. It runs five nights a week, and features poker pros, celebrities and regular cash grinders. The show has always had card graphics and professional commentary making it one of the longest running poker shows ever.
The Bicycle Hotel & Casino underwent a major hotel expansion in the Fall of 2015. The new seven-story, 117,907 square-foot complex now includes live entertainment, gaming, cocktail lounge, brewery, fitness center, sundeck with an outdoor bar, and a number of places to dine.
In popular media
The Bicycle Casino was featured in an episode of the TV series Numb3rs dealing with the murder of a successful card-counter, who coincidentally was also heavily into bicycle home repair.
- “The Bicycle Hotel & Casino”.
- GLENN F. BUNTING and TINA GRIEGO – Miami Trial Gives Startling New Portrait of Sam Gilbert. Los Angeles Times, April 23, 1990
- “Bicycle Casino Review – The Bike”.
- GLENN F. BUNTING. Investors Face High-Stakes Battle for Casino Profits. Los Angeles Times, May 29, 1990
- 44 F3d 888 United States of America v. Michael Gilbert
244 F.3d 888 (11th Cir. 2001)
- WILLIAM OVEREND and WILLIAM NOTTINGHAM – Sports Figure Is Indicted–4 Days After Death. Los Angeles Times, November 26, 1987
- Griego, Tina. Forfeiture Laws Give U.S. a Piece of a Casino : Narcotics: Government now owns about 30% of Bicycle Club in Bell Gardens, which was built to a large extent with smuggled drug money. Los Angeles Times, August 22, 1990
- Griego, Tina. Court Clears Casino Manager and Partners : George G. Hardie and his financial partners will regain ownership rights to the profitable Bicycle Club in Bell Gardens. Los Angeles Times, October 04, 1990
- U.S. to Sell Share of Bicycle Casino for $25 Million
- KTLA.com: Bicycle Hotel and Casino in Bell Gardens Raided by Federal Authorities
- LA Times: Building a $1-million poker game for ‘Live at the Bike’
- “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2015-02-24. Retrieved 2015-03-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- “Double Down”. 13 January 2006 – via IMDb.