The group of foreigners arrested in an island in Thailand for playing bridge will “likely” walk away as free men and women, local media reported.
According to Pattaya Mail, authorities will likely drop the gambling charges filed against the 32 foreigners, all over the age of 60, arrested last week. However, Jomtien & Pattaya Bridge Club President Jeremy Watson could face penalties for organizing the card sessions, which have been going on since 1994.
Quoting Thai police chief Pol. Col. Sukthat Pumphanmuang, the report said Watson’s group “is not legally registered as a club and was using cards unapproved by the Excise Department.”
Last week, Thai law enforcement officers and members of the military raided a second-floor room above a restaurant in Pattaya and found a group of men and women, mostly Britons who live on the island, playing bridge. No money was seen changing hands, but authorities said the players violated a local law from 1935 that forbids anyone from possessing “more than 120 playing cards at a time,” and that “the cards did not have an official government seal on the boxes.”
The players were detained for 12 hours and were released on bail after signing confessions. Australian bridge champion Avon Wilsmore, who was among the arrested, told the Sydney Morning Herald that they were told to sign the documents and then just “retract and contest the matter in court.”
Among the group, only one player—an 84-year-old German woman—had the balls to refuse signing a declaration, telling Thai authorities that “she would take whatever was coming, good or bad and [there was] no paying bail for her.”
Thai authorities received a lot of flak following the arrest, but Pumphanmuang said they “were just doing their job.”
Banglamung District Chief Chakorn Kanchawattana ordered the raid, saying he was obligated to investigate after receiving a complaint that illegal gambling was going on at the club. According to The Guardian, the tipster was an ex-girlfriend of one of the club’s members, who already went to police with the same claim.