North Bay casino specialist scores $210M to add SoCal card room, hotel

Petaluma-based Parkwest Casinos plans to rebrand operation in southeastern LA County, size of loan suggests renovation

Bicycle Hotel and Casino in Bell Gardens (TripAdvisor, iStock)
Bicycle Hotel and Casino in Bell Gardens (TripAdvisor, iStock)

A Bay Area-based gaming and hospitality developer just scored big bucks to buy a casino and hotel in Bell Gardens, with enough left over to suggest bigger ambitions.

Petaluma-based Parkwest Casinos scored a $210 million line of credit in connection with its purchase of the Bicycle Hotel and Casino last month, according to property records filed with Los Angeles County.

Comerica Bank is listed as the trustee for the loan, acting on behalf of other unnamed lenders. The loan will allow Parkwest to draw on funds for future development and costs.

Parkwest Casinos, run by John Park, bought the property for about $103 million in April, property records show. The company is planning to rename the casino Parkwest Bicycle Casino, according to documents filed with the California Gambling Control Commission. The state commission approved the sale in March.

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Entities linked to Carter Management Group and Thousand Palms Enterprises sold the property, which has 185 poker and other card tables across a 100,000-square-foot poker room, according to its website, plus 99 hotel rooms.

The sale comes after a years-long money-laundering investigation into the casino, which resulted in the property agreeing to pay $500,000 to settle federal violations of anti-money laundering rules last November.

The Bicycle Hotel and Casino accepted responsibility for not properly reporting suspicious activity reports for a “high roller” Chinese national, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The so-called high roller gambled at the casino about 100 times over eight months in 2016, playing baccarat “with huge sums of cash that on some occasions he transported to and from the casino in duffle bags.”

On one occasion, the person withdrew $2 million from his account and played in a VIP room for almost 12 hours.

Parkwest Casinos operates five casinos — in Livermore, Sacramento, Lodi, Rancho Cordova and Manteca. The Bicycle property is Parkwest’s first in Southern California and in Los Angeles.