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Warning to Senior Citizens: Be Careful Playing Bridge in Thailand

On Wednesday afternoon, a group of retiree tourists visiting Thailand were arrested after soldiers acting on a gambling tip broke up their game of bridge.

BRIGHTON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 19:  People play in an open round of Europe's biggest single venue bridge competition at the Metropole Hotel August 19, 2005 in Brighton, England. The game of Bridge is believed to share the same mental ability that is used to trade shares and is played regularly by over a million people.  (Photo by )
BRIGHTON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 19: People play in an open round of Europe's biggest single venue bridge competition at the Metropole Hotel August 19, 2005 in Brighton, England. The game of Bridge is believed to share the same mental ability that is used to trade shares and is played regularly by over a million people. (Photo by )

There is a seemingly endless list of ways Westerners have gotten themselves arrested in Thailand. Last April, an American tourist driving the wrong way on a Thai street hit 13 vehicles and didn’t stop until police shot her tires. Last month, during New Year’s celebrations on the tourist island of Phuket, two women — Austrian and American — were fined for flashing their breasts from the window of an SUV.

Now, add card games to the list.

On Wednesday afternoon, a group of retired tourists staying in the resort town of Pattaya were arrested after soldiers acting on a gambling tip broke up their game of bridge. Among them? An 84-year-old Dutch woman.

The group, which included travelers from Britain and Scandinavia and who were mainly senior citizens, was taken into custody by the Pattaya police and had their cards and computers seized.

The president of the Contract Bridge League of Thailand visited the police station to make sure the officials who made the arrest understood that Thailand doesn’t classify playing bridge without money as an act of gambling. Pattaya Police Col. Sukathat Pumpanmuang said they were released on bail of around $140 after 12 hours in custody.

Later Chaiyut Assanaiyarat, manager of the league, said “it was military and district officials who initiated the raid and they probably didn’t know.”

But just because the group got away without gambling charges doesn’t mean they’re getting off scot-free. Pumpanmuang said they could been charged under a Thai law that bans individuals from having more than 120 playing cards at a time.  

Photo credit: BRUNO VINCENT/Getty Images

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