The Bicycle Hotel and Casino in Bell Gardens, California was raided by federal authorities this week, and was temporarily shut down. The famous poker room, which has been in operation for over three decade, was raided by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit, the IRS Criminal Investigation unit and the California Department of Justice Bureau of Gambling Control. The US Attorney General’s office was also involved. The casino reopened on Wednesday.
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At 7 am local time, the agencies stormed ‘The Bike’ and ordered all patrons to leave the premises without touching any of the chips left on the table. The feds blocked both entrances to the casino’s parking lot and while the investigation was taking place, nobody was allowed to enter the building.
While no official statement has been made by authorities regarding the nature of the raid, some media sources say that it is believed that money laundering took place at some of the gaming tables in the casino. The Bicycle is home to 185 poker tables.
In the first few hours following the raid, a statement was put out by the casino which read: “We are working with authorities and currently do not have additional information. As soon as the federal agents have completed their work, we will be in full operation.”
After the green light was given to reopen the casino, another statement was made: “We are serving our customers and resuming normal operations immediately. Our priority is to provide a safe and fun environment for our guests.”
No arrests were made in the raid, which involved nine state and federal agencies.
The early morning raid came as a surprise to Bell Gardens, a community which relies heavily on revenue generated by the casino. Hundreds of locals are employed at The Bike. Those interviewed just after the casino was raided said that a permanent shut down would deal a devastating blow to the town.