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HOME > NEWS > Featured Articles > Casino Openings & Expansions: Bicycle Casino realizes 'decade-long vision' with luxury boutique hotel

Casino Openings & Expansions: Bicycle Casino realizes 'decade-long vision' with luxury boutique hotel

21 December 2015

By Gary Trask

As the first guests entered The Bicycle Hotel & Casino earlier this month, Robert H. Carter experienced a keen sense of satisfaction. For nearly three decades, The Bicycle Casino – or "The Bike," as it's often called – has been an iconic figure in the poker world. But now, thanks to what Carter and Managing Partner/CEO Hashem Minaiy called a "decade-long vision," the landmark property is a major player in the Los Angeles hospitality scene with the opening of a privately funded, $50 million, seven-story, boutique luxury hotel.

"I felt a great sense of pride in our organization," Carter, President of Carter Management Group, Inc., a General Partner of The Bicycle Hotel & Casino, told Casino City when asked what went through his mind when the new hotel was officially unveiled. "The entire Bike team came together to make this happen. My partner, Hashem Minaiy, shared this vision years ago. Eventually everyone embraced the project, took responsibility and contributed beyond expectations . . . It's a dream fully realized, a perfect complement to the casino."

The Bicycle Hotel and Casino is a $50 million, seven-story luxury hotel located 15 minutes from downtown Los Angeles

The Bicycle Hotel and Casino is a $50 million, seven-story luxury hotel located 15 minutes from downtown Los Angeles

Located 15 minutes from downtown LA in Bell Gardens, the new four-star hotel experience at The Bike begins at the four-lane porte-cochere. Once inside, the lobby lights up with a custom chandelier of 1,660 crystalline strands and a floor design of overlapping circles, inspired by a bicycle wheel. Among the 99 guestrooms are three selections of suites, including the Classic Suite (648 square feet), the signature Bike Suite (904 square feet), the Governor's Suite (1,359 square feet) and the Presidential Suite (2,007 square feet, two bedrooms, formal living room and Jacuzzi tub).

The second floor features a state-of-the-art fitness center, outdoor pool deck with cabanas and a spa and sauna. There's also 9,000 square feet of event and private meeting space for special business presentations, conventions and banquets.

A new microbrewery, The Bike Brewery, offers a full menu and 28 beers on tap, including its own blonde ale called The Bike Brew.

"Guests have been raving about the 28 beers, including 18 craft beer selections on draught, and 28 TVs," Carter said of the new brewery. "It offers a local getaway with endless opportunities for private events, beer pairing events or just a casual family dinner."

Speaking of families, the new hotel now opens up the venue to a whole new demographic.

"We wanted to be more than just a card room," Carter said. "While our competition operates as a card room with some amenities, we have trained our team and have brought in experienced management so that we treat each area of the business as if it is our primary business.

"We promote our hotel and casino as a getaway destination. Whether coming from near or far you can come to the Bike for events or just to enjoy the social scene at the lounges, the great meals at our restaurants or enjoy world-class gaming. The hotel lets us expand our market geographically into areas, such as overseas, which we were blocked from competing in from lack of facilities. Having the hotel will not only increase our gaming market but will also bring in guests locally and internationally coming to the area for business travel."

Of course, The Bike is already renowned as one of the largest poker venues in the country, attracting World Series of Poker circuit events, the World Poker Tour, the Mega Millions Series and The Card Player Tour Series. The casino is also one of the top employers in Bell Gardens and is a major sponsor of The Bicycle Casino Foundation, which supports various nonprofit organizations designed to impact the lives of youth residing in Bell Gardens.

* * *

Canada's newest gaming venue – Elements Casino – opened last week, replacing the existing Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino in Surrey, BC.

"New table games, new slots and new dining facilities have all parlayed into an entertainment package second to none in the marketplace," said General Manager Michael Kim. "The residents of the City of Surrey have been waiting for a property like this one."

The 56,000-square-foot casino features more than 500 state-of-the-art interactive slot machines, and table games such as baccarat, blackjack, roulette and poker.

Live entertainment is offered in a venue that holds 300 people as well as an intimate lounge that seats 70. In addition to a buffet and several "grab and go" outlets, new dining options include the Molson Canadian Lounge, which comfortably seats 60 and is described as a modern "mini pub" where beer and burgers are the order of the day and night, with major sporting events popping up on television monitors throughout the area.

On the second level is Escape – a showroom that accommodates 300 guests for live entertainment. New Year's Eve reservations are now being accepted for an appearance by the popular local party band All About Jack.

Adjacent to Escape is a short stairway that leads to Homestretch, a brightly lit dining area that seats up to 600 horse racing fans who can dine while overlooking the track. It's also the new home to the B.C. Harness Racing Hall of Fame that features pictures and trophies of the province's racing legends. Outside the entrance to Homestretch, guests have the opportunity to play 100 slots in a unique seating design that allows them to watch live racing at the same time. Live standardbred horse racing will continue to be featured six months a year, and simulcast racing will be held year-round.

Also on the second level is a vast gaming area that consists of 50% slots and 50% tables, including baccarat, blackjack, roulette, poker and a VIP room.

Elements Casino is owned and operated by the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, whose list of 17 facilities includes River Rock Casino Resort and Hard Rock Casino Vancouver.

* * *

The Hannahville Indian Community is building a new golf course in the Upper Peninsula as an amenity to its Island Resort & Casino, a complementary second course to the award-winning Sweetgrass Golf Club. The currently unnamed new course is scheduled to debut in 2017.

Highly acclaimed Sweetgrass Golf Club at Island Resort and Casino in Michigan will soon have a sister championship course.

Highly acclaimed Sweetgrass Golf Club at Island Resort and Casino in Michigan will soon have a sister championship course.

"One golf course is a course, two is a destination," said Tony Mancilla, Island Resort & Casino general manager. "We believe the new course and new spa we're building – combined with our existing resort amenities and established golf-visitor appeal – will draw more people who stay longer and spend more."

Paul Albanese, of the golf course architecture firm Albanese & Lutzke, was chosen to author the new course, which will be dramatically different than Sweetgrass. Ground was recently broken in open spaces, but the majority of tree removal for fairways will take place this winter.

The new course, about six miles from the resort on adjacent Hannahville land, will be played roughly two-thirds through trees, with rugged features like non-manicured bunker edging. There will be a sprinkler system installed down the middle of each fairway, but the intent is to allow the grass to brown out toward the fescue edges. Mancilla said there will be a drivable par four on each nine, and a good mix of long and short par threes and fours.

Regarding the overall look, Albanese said: "Think Royal County Down – lots of earth tones, browns and tans – it's what the landscape calls for."

Sweetgrass has been named a top course in the state by both Golfweek and GOLF Magazine since opening in 2008, and it annually hosts the LPGA Symetra Tour's Island Resort Championship.

* * *

Parx Casino in Bensalem, about 20 minutes north of Philadelphia, unveiled the first phase of a multi-pronged expansion last month when it opened a gaming enclave on the casino floor with new slot machines, live table games and restrooms.

The expanded gaming floor now spans more than 176,000 square feet and boasts over 200 live table games and 3,500 slot machines, including new games such as Quick Hits, Alice and the Mad Tea Party, Vegas Fantasy, Spy vs. Spy, Life of Luxury Progressive, Jenga and Captain Nemo. In addition to new slots, there are a series of new fusion hybrid, live dealer table games, most notably Shaquille O'Neal's ShaqBlackjack, baccarat and roulette with $5 minimum live wagers. These new hybrid table games allow players to bet on up to four live games all at the same time from 24 available private terminals.

The remaining phases of the master expansion plan will continue through the end of this year and into 2016. The centerpiece will be Xlounge, a luxury lounge featuring cocktails, craft beers, a high-end menu, lavish design finishes and additional gaming located in an airy new enclave of the casino floor. A casino spokesperson told Casino City the lounge is expected to open within the next three weeks.

* * *

Pearl River Resort in Choctaw, Mississippi opened the new Pearl River Bingo earlier this month at Silver Star Hotel & Casino.

"We are pleased to introduce another exciting gaming addition for our guests to enjoy," said Pearl River Resort Interim President & CEO Sonny Johnson. "Pearl River Bingo is not your average bingo. Guests have the opportunity to not only compete against players at the Resort but also other players across the country for a chance to win huge progressive jackpots."

Open five days a week, Pearl River Bingo is located in the Silver Star Promenade across from Stats Bar & Grill. Guests have the option of choosing traditional paper game cards, electronic game cards or both.

Owned and operated by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Pearl River Resort features the Silver Star Hotel & Casino, Golden Moon Hotel & Casino, Dancing Rabbit Golf Club and Geyser Falls Water Theme Park located in Choctaw, Mississippi and Bok Homa Casino located in Sandersville.

Last week, the Bok Homa Casino celebrated its five-year anniversary.

"We are pleased to be celebrating our five year anniversary at Bok Homa Casino," stated Sonny Johnson, Interim President & CEO for Pearl River Resort, "Bok Homa has substantially grown over the years, and we owe much of its success to our loyal guests and hard-working team members."

Bok Homa Casino first opened its doors on December 20, 2010. The 27,000-square-foot facility offers over 700 slot machines, retail shop and an all-American quick serve eatery named, Lucky's.

Also featured is the Event Center, which hosts property promotions, bingo tournaments and special events. Bok Homa Casino recently introduced table games, including blackjack, Mississippi Stud and Three Card Poker.

Gary Trask
Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has worked as a writer and editor more than 20 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

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