Sunday, February 7, 2016

Elderly Thai bridge players arrested for having too many cards

In the resort town of Pattaya a group of elderly bridge players were arrested for having too many unregistered playing cards.

The local paper, Pattaya One, said the bridge players broke a 1935 law, the Playing Cards Act. The act prohibits individual players from possessing more than 120 unregistered playing cards. The Thai military government is on a campaign to crack down on corruption and crime. The group said they were not playing for money.
In all, 32 foreigners were arrested including British, Swedish, Norwegian and Australian citizens. There was also a Dane, a Canadian, and a New Zealander. Among those arrested was an 84-year old Dutch woman. After being held in custody for 12 hours the group were released on bail. The seaside resort town of Pattaya is popular with tourists and retired people. The group will receive some help from the president of Thailand's bridge league, who has gone to Pattaya to explain to the police how bridge is played. Gambling is strictly prohibited in Thailand.
Pattaya is renowned for its go-go bars and links with organized crime. As a Global News report put it: Add aging Western bridge players to the list of desperadoes in Thailand’s seaside resort of Pattaya, a sin city rife with prostitution, corruption and foreign and home-grown gangsters.
Colonel Suthat Pumphanmuang superintendent of the Pattaya police claimed the group were arrested for gambling: "There were 32 people, all of them foreigners, arrested for gambling." He also said the raid was conducted after a complaint to the anti-corruption center by a member of the public. In spite of strict laws on gambling, Thailand runs a lottery and allows bets on some animal fighting. The police superintendent noted that the chairman of the bridge club said they were not gambling. All those arrested were released on payment of $140 bail except one person who did not have enough money to pay and remained in jail.
The Jomtien and Pattaya Bridge Club is popular with elderly foreign bridge players. It meets three times every week above a restaurant. The Club has been operating bridge nights since 1994. The crackdown on corruption and gambling and a military government has not slowed down the tourist trade with a record 29.9 million tourists visiting Thailand last year.


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