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Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Bell Gardens Sells for $102 Million in Nation’s Largest County

April 27, 2022~An owner of gambling facilities across California has anted up to buy a Los Angeles County hotel and card room, one of the nation’s biggest facilities of its kind, in a major deal for the industry that creates thousands of jobs in the largest U.S. county.

An entity related to Northern California gaming owner Parkwest Casinos bought the Bicycle Hotel & Casino site at 888 Bicycle Casino Drive in Bell Gardens for roughly $102 million on April 12, according to CoStar data and Jeff Van Wagner, a Los Angeles attorney who worked with the buyer on the deal. A separate entity, also related to Parkwest Casinos, bought the gambling business itself for an undisclosed amount.

Card rooms in California differ from casinos in that they don’t offer slot machines, and gamblers play games such as Texas Hold ’em against each other and not “the house.” The card rooms supply tables, cards and chips but generate revenue through small fees on each hand played.

California’s not alone in permitting these types of in-person card rooms, which exist in various legal or semi-legal forms in some U.S. states. In some Texas cities, for example, private clubs offer gambling that’s similar to California where these establishments allow players to bet against each other while charging fees to make money, but occasionally cities have moved to shut them down.

The Bell Gardens property is now called Parkwest Bicycle Casino, according to its website. It features a spa, eateries, a 99-room hotel and a roughly 100,000-square-foot poker room with 185 tables. The property tends to be the single largest contributor to the general revenue of the city of Bell Gardens in southeast Los Angeles County, according to the city’s website.

The deal was among the 20 biggest real estate sales in greater Los Angeles this year in terms of total price, according to CoStar data.

While Los Angeles is known for its film and entertainment businesses, the card room industry is a significant employer and economic generator in the region. The industry supports about 13,500 jobs and has a roughly $2.3 billion economic effect on Los Angeles County alone, with a statewide impact of roughly $5.6 billion, according to a November 2019 study.

These card rooms are essential to city budgets, too. The Commerce Casino, which calls itself the region’s largest card room, contributed to nearly half the city of Commerce’s total general fund revenue, according to a letter to the state in December 2019 from the Los Angeles County Business Federation, a trade group.

California has 89 licensed card rooms and 66 tribal casinos, according to the state’s Gambling Control Commission website.

The southeast Los Angeles hotel market, which includes Bell Gardens, has a nearly 70% average occupancy, near the greater L.A. average of 73.5%, according to CoStar data. The market’s average daily rate was $121.24, well below the greater L.A. average of $193.61.