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Western retirees at Thai resort busted for playing bridge

BANGKOK » 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.

The bridge players, mostly British but also from Scandinavia, the Netherlands and elsewhere, were busted by a task force of soldiers, police and local officials as they played cards at eight tables in an apartment above a restaurant, police Col. Sukathat Pumpanmuang, superintendent of the Pattaya Police Station, said today. He said the law enforcement agents were acting on a tip that illegal gambling was taking place there.

Those arrested Wednesday afternoon — including an 84-year-old Dutch woman, according to the Pattaya One news website — were released on bail of $140 each in the wee hours of this morning. Sukathat said they would not be charged with gambling, but might be charged under a law limiting individuals to possession of 120 unregistered playing cards.

The officer said police didn’t see money changing hands, but seized as evidence computers, decks of cards and a book with results of the bridge games. He said most of the players were in their 60s or older.

The card players’ plight was eased after the president of the Contract Bridge League of Thailand, Chodchoy Sophonpanich — a civic activist who is a member of Thailand’s most prominent banking family — went to Pattaya on this morning to advise police that bridge was treated under the law as a sport rather than gambling.

“Police know that bridge is a sport because a similar case happened before, but this time it was military and district officials who initiated the raid and they probably didn’t know,” said Chaiyut Assanaiyarat, the bridge league’s manager.

The chief of Thailand’s junta, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, began a crackdown on gambling, especially at illegal casinos, soon after taking power as part of a broader anti-corruption campaign.

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  • Just another Thai scam for the cops to make extra pocket money. Thailand is a backwards third world country just like Viet Nam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Philippines. The cops extort from bars and their workers. If someone attacks you and you defend yourself, both are charged. One for attacking and you for disturbing the peace(?). Happened to me, but I laughed it off because the fine was only US$15.00. There’s a running joke in Thailand that if the cops want to prevent crime they should arrest themselves. Former President Thaksin Shinawatra tried to rein in the corrupt police department, but they were too big and deeply embedded. Now a new military junta has declared martial law and seems to be forcing changes. Recent news was 50 cops were rounded up and forced to be drug tested. Funny all were clean, but more testing is coming which should put fear into every cop. Cops still drive around and jump on tourists they think look like drug abusers. They will slide their hands into their pockets and put everything out without asking them. They want to see their ID and passport. I don’t carry mine. Just a photocopy. Never give them your wallet with money in it. Don’t ever be intimidated or scared. Argue with them. They look so stupid because they can’t understand English. The last thing they will do is make you urinate into a cup so they can do an instant drug analysis. Taxi, motorcycle, and yuk-tuk drivers are into the scam for kickbacks by driving you into checkpoints for testing. If they can arrest you just because you don’t have your passport they will do so . It is money they want and are willing to steal it. Some cops are young and honest and some have committed suicide in frustration. This life is not what they worked so hard for. Sad. I can go on and on telling you what a rotten place Thailand is. Why is the monarchy doing something to protect its citizens? Before you go to Thailand, please Google Thailand Scams, Bangkok scams, Phuket scams, Suvarnbhumi airport scams, Thailand TIB (FBI) head arrested for extortion, Pattaya scams, Full moon scams, and everything you can think of. Evil place. Glad this card playing senior bust is in our papers. It was in the Pattaya One online news yesterday. It is or will be in all of England’s papers. Shame on Thailand.

  • The Junta has to be in the limelight to stay in power and select foreigners as target, that is seniors as they will not fight back. Easier o pick on them instead of rowdy and uncontrollable local mobs.

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