$100m Gambling Spree by High Roller Lands L.A. Casino with Major Fine
- Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Bell Gardens was slapped with a fine.
- The Casino unlawfully filed financial reports for high roller in an assistant’s name.
- The unnamed Chinese player took duffle bags stuffed with up to $100 million for “marathon” gambling sessions.
A casino in Los Angeles was hit with a $500,000 fine and — forced to overhaul its anti-money-laundering protocols — following a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice this week.
The punishment pertains to a serious violation of the Bank Secrecy Act by the Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Bell Gardens, California. The establishment failed to follow appropriate money laundering protocol by reporting suspicious gambling activity.
The establishment has a long history of controversy, with federal agents seizing the casino in 1990.
Who Was the Mysterious Whale?
According to reports, the gambler made several visits to the casino starting in at least January 2016.
Arriving with duffle bags packed with millions, the mysterious high roller would take to the tables in “marathon” gaming sessions.
It is believed that the player — named only as a “Chinese national” by the Department of Justice — routinely conducted transactions amounting to millions of dollars inside the premises.
Staff at all levels were told to be aware of the player’s excessive gambling habits.
Home to the Legends of Poker series since 1995, the casino includes a stop on the prestigious World Poker Tour.
It is also regarded in the area for its multiple-limit tables and for specializing in Asian games.
How the Player Was Caught
The investigation ascertained that The Bicycle filed currency transaction forms in the name of a gambler’s assistant.
If you are unfamiliar with gambling laws in the United States, you might be unaware that this is illegal.
Any gambler that purchases more than $10,000 in chips using cash is subject to file a currency-transaction report as well as a suspicious-activity report with the Department of the Treasury.
The name of the gambler playing with the money must appear on the documents.
The investigation proved that this was circumvented by way of using another name. What’s more, the casino failed to file the suspicious-activity report, holding them subject to unlawful activity.
Given the player had frequented the casino approximately one hundred times throughout an extended period believed to be around eight months, this should not have happened.
Although the casino has been fined a hefty $500,000, things could have been much worse. Especially with the shady track record of the establishment.
A History of Controversy at “The Bike”
This is not the first time that the casino has faced the wrath of authorities.
An investigation into the funding of the casino was launched in 1987, with businessman Sam Gilbert posthumously indicted for suspicious activity relating to the Bell Gardens playhouse.
Gilbert, who died four days after the indictment was served, was found to have established ties with marijuana smuggler Jack Kramer. Together, they came up with the concept of creating a card club to launder Kramer’s dirty money.
In a joint operation in 1990, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the IRS seized the casino.
It was found that the construction of the gambling house had been partly funded by a cartel via the use of illegal drug money.