OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced action against The Bicycle Hotel & Casino (Bicycle) in Bell Gardens, following resolution of a federal investigation that the casino violated the anti-money laundering provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). Attorney General Bonta initiated and filed an administrative accusation with the California Gambling Control Commission against Bicycle after the company admitted wrongdoing as part of a non-prosecution agreement at the federal level between the casino and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. Attorney General Bonta’s action will seek to hold the casino’s owner responsible for state violations.
“Our gaming laws are about protecting the public and ensuring money from illicit activity isn’t funneled through card rooms and casinos,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The federal government has taken action against Bicycle, and now it’s time to hold the casino accountable for alleged violations of our state laws.”
In 2017, following a joint investigation by the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Gambling Control, IRS - Criminal Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations, that uncovered alleged violations of the BSA, the U.S. Department of Justice began pursuit of criminal charges against Bicycle. Today, following the non-prosecution agreement with the federal government, Attorney General Bonta filed an administrative accusation alleging Bicycle overlooked, neglected, or was willfully blind to accusations and actions taken against other casinos for violations of the BSA and for failing to maintain adequate Anti Money Laundering (AML) programs. During the period in which Bicycle failed to take action to ensure its own compliance with the law, the casino admitted to filing numerous false currency transaction reports on more than $100 million in transactions related to a single gambler.
The BSA requires casinos to implement and maintain anti-money laundering programs in an effort to prevent criminals and terrorists from using casinos to launder cash generated by illegal activity. The BSA also requires casinos to report certain suspicious activity, such as efforts to avoid the filing of accurate currency transaction reports. California law requires card rooms to be operated in a manner suitable to protect public health, safety, and general welfare. When casinos and card rooms fail to do so, they can face discipline, including license revocation.
In March, the California Department of Justice announced a $5.3 million settlement of a similar case against Artichoke Joe’s Casino in San Bruno for BSA violations and misleading gambling regulators.
Today’s accusation is a part of Attorney General Bonta’s work to ensure gambling in California is conducted safely, honestly, competitively, and free from criminal and corruptive elements. In October, the Attorney General announced formal court approval of a multimillion-dollar stipulated judgment against Pong Game Studios Corporation. In August, Attorney General Bonta announced the settlement of a case against Lucky Lady Card Room in San Diego, in response to a 2016 allegation that illegal bookmaking operations were being run out of the card room. In June, Attorney General Bonta announced a settlement against Lake Bowl Cardroom in Folsom for refusing to comply with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines issued by the California Department of Public Health.
A copy of the administrative accusation is available here.