Friday, May 17, 2024


A casino in Los Angeles is a curious thing. There, the word “games” is utilized far more frequently than “gambling”. This is because, with the exception of those in San Manuel, Morongo and Pechanga, California casinos only offer table games like poker and blackjack. There are no slot machines or roulette tables. Concentrated in the South and Southeast, casinos in Los Angeles look more like food halls, as opposed to Las Vegas, where they are associated with skyscrapers and bachelor parties. Find out more at la-future.

It all started aboard ships

In 1891, the legislature banned all types of gambling by law, listing card games by name but with the exception of Draw Poker. From the turn of the century until the 1920s, poker games continued to be played, both legally and illegally.

The first gambling ships appeared off the coast of Los Angeles County in 1928. Despite the fact that gambling was prohibited in California, the state’s authority extended only three miles offshore. Since gambling was not prohibited by federal law, floating gaming operators only needed to anchor three miles away. The ships were so profitable that by 1930, a sort of small fleet of gambling ships was anchored a few miles off the coasts of Long Beach and Santa Monica.

This did not sit well with local law enforcement and public morality advocates, who saw it as a violation of state laws. The operation of these ships was often attempted to be stopped or interfered with, but gambling operators were able to successfully fend off most of these efforts in court.

Tony Cornero

Tony Cornero was one of the most well-known gaming operators. He was a former smuggler who arrived in Santa Monica with the intention of emptying Los Angeles residents’ pockets on the water. Cornero was an excellent marketer who used airplanes to advertise his most well-known boat, the Rex, with inscriptions in the sky. He was also well ahead of his time. He was well-liked by the media, but not by the authorities.

He provided a variety of games to his customers, including roulette, Faro, blackjack, stud poker, high Spade, craps, chuck-a-luck and Chinese lottery. He put up 150 slot machines, a large horse room and a bingo hall with 400 seats.

During the launch of his second Bunker Hill cruiser, Cornero and five of his workers were detained on allegations of criminal conspiracy to gamble and serve alcohol without a license. Following his arrest, Cornero stated that he was ready to appeal to the United States Supreme Court to save Bunker Hill.

Card rooms

There used to be dozens of licensed and illegal card halls and social clubs in Los Angeles County. In 1938, Long Beach alone had 40 licensed card establishments. Card halls in Los Angeles were shuttered due to severe zoning rules. Players could discover a poker table in a legal card room outside of Los Angeles, in cities like Hawthorne, El Monte and unregistered Los Angeles County. 

Back then, the majority of the players were amateurs. In the early 1950s, Gardena card rooms restricted bets to one or two dollars. The maximum wager at several tables was only 10 cents. Drinking was prohibited. Spouses could not play together. There were restrictions on cashing checks and using credit. Despite the low stakes, professional players could be found in every card establishment, frequently at tables where an illegal no-limit game was being played.

At the poker table, players usually paid the card room 50 cents an hour. Gardena and poker were closely associated until 1980 when Bell became the second city in Los Angeles County to legalize gambling. The first card room to open was California Bell, which had 60 tables, followed by clubs in Commerce, Huntington Park and Bell Gardens. Gardena was gradually displaced by its competitors.

Since the early 1980s, despite growing governmental control over card clubs and their owners, effective casino regulation has been nearly impossible. In the mid-1980s, three members of the Business Council were convicted of corruption allegations.  In 1990, a bike club was seized by federal authorities after it was discovered that it was built with 12 million dollars derived from drug sales.

The current state of affairs

Until 1998, the gaming sector in California was essentially uncontrolled. In 1984, the legislature established the Gambling Control Act, which mandated the Attorney General’s office to create a single minimum regulation of California’s card rooms. 

In March 2000, California voters approved a proposal to modify the California Constitution to legalize Class III (casino-style) games in Indian territory. 

The Gambling Control Act established a comprehensive plan for statewide control of legal gambling. Its split management system comprises the Bureau of Gambling Control in the Attorney General’s office and five members of the California Bureau of Gambling Control. 

California has not yet approved the legalization of online gambling, though. As a result, the answer to the question, “Is gambling legal in California?” is no. However, users can still access online gaming sites. They can sign up and make a deposit.

California’s best casinos

The Bicycle Hotel & Casino first opened its doors in 1984, but it was recently enlarged to a seven-story hotel with 70 rooms and 29 apartments, as well as a gastropub, cocktail bar, spa, pool terrace and private booths. The new VIP card rooms are decorated in the style of a Las Vegas nightclub, with crystals, white chairs and blue lighting.

The Bicycle Casino is one of those casinos that provides a wide range of services to its customers without compromising quality. This casino features a beautiful hotel with all of the modern amenities you’d expect from a high-end facility. Among the many amenities are international spas, world-class games, stylish and spacious suites and an outdoor pool. There are over 50 board games available here.

The casino near Hollywood Park, which was originally home to a famous racetrack, is set to be transformed into a multi-functional complex with an entertainment center and a football stadium in the following years. Casinos were also affected by this wave of reconstruction. A mid-2016 renovation resulted in a stylish new area with an authentic restaurant, lounge, 125 card tables and a variety of high-limit games. It makes a stunning contrast to an outdated grey structure.

Another wonderful casino in Los Angeles worth visiting is the Commerce Casino. This casino is all about diversity, as it offers a wide range of table games. Texas hold’em, Seven-card stud, Omaha and others are available here. Everyone will find something to their liking in this great casino. These games draw participants from all over Southern California. The casino offers multiple promotions in which you can win thousands of dollars.

Furthermore, this casino is continuously hosting tournaments with very low buy-ins and big buy-backs that are meant for players ranging from beginners to pros. The casino provides services that are far less typical for establishments of this type. Here, it is possible to order a massage at the table to soothe your nerves during an intense game. Restaurants allow you to eat at your table, eliminating the need to stand up and leave the game. There is a separate valet and car wash service for players.

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