An Australian bridge champion is crying foul over his supposed arrest in Thailand over gambling charges.
Avon Wilsmore, a winner of three Australian National Championships, told the Sydney Morning Herald he was playing bridge with members of the Pattaya bridge club on February 3 when he and 30 others were taken into police custody.
Wilsmore said they were told by the Thai military police that they would be detained indefinitely unless they signed declarations. The man said he has “quite an aversion to signing false declarations,” but a lawyer advised his group to sign the documents.
“Her was that this ‘confession’ was no big deal, we could retract and contest the matter in court,” Wilsmore said, according to the news outlet.
The player said they repeatedly told the authorities that bridge is considered a sport and that they are only playing for points. Wilsmore said in addition to paying $194 bail, his passport was also confiscated after the raid.
Wilsmore said an 84-year-old German woman was the only one with balls to actually refuse to sign the declaration, telling authorities that “she would take whatever was coming, good or bad and [there was] no paying bail for her.”
Last week, Thai law enforcement officers, including members of the military, stormed a second-floor room above restaurant in the island of Pattaya. According to a Pattaya One report, the officers got a tipoff from an informant that a group of foreigners regularly meet in a rented room. The group, mostly Britons who live in the island, were actually members of the Jomtien & Pattaya Bridge Club and they meet three times a week to play bridge.
No money was seen changing hands, but after scouring the law books, Thai officers decided the players violated a local law from 1935 forbids anyone from possessing “more than 120 playing cards at a time.”
Another player told Pattaya One that they were also told that “the cards did not have an official government seal on the boxes,” which is another offense.
Pattaya’s police chief Sukthat Pumphanmuang told the Bangkok Post the authorities were “just doing their job.”
The result of the investigation will be forward to prosecutors this week, according to the report.