Authorities in Thailand’s sin city of Pattaya have long been trying to clean up its image but police have now been accused of going just a little too far.
A group of 32 mostly elderly Western retirees have been busted on suspicion of illegal gambling – for playing Bridge.
The group were raided by not only police but members of the Thai military and local officials.
They were acting on an anonymous tip, Pattaya police chief Col. Sukathat Pumpanmuang said.
The group includes a 84-year Dutch woman, local media reported.
They were released on bail of THB 5,000 but will not be charged with illegal gambling..
However they could be charged under an obscure law which limits all individuals to no more than 120 unregistered playing cards in their possession.
Police found no proof of any money changing hands but seized computers, playing cards and a book with the results of each game logged.
The raid was heavily criticised by local and international media.
The gambling charges were dropped after the president of the Contract Bridge League of Thailand, Chodchoy Sophonpanich lobbied on the group’s behalf, insisting Bridge is recognised under Thai law as a sport and not 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.