District chief defends bridge raid, said future games must be organized as competitions

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Banglamung District Chief Chakorn Kanchawattana said bridge games will be allowed in Pattaya only if they are sanctioned as competitions by the Contract Bridge League of Thailand.

In comments to the Feb. 11 Pattaya Business & Tourism Association meeting at the Grand Sole Hotel, Chakorn, who ordered the controversial Feb. 4 raid on the Jomtien & Pattaya Bridge Club meeting at Alto’s Restaurant on Thappraya Soi 2, said he was bound by the law to investigate the club after complaints were lodged about alleged gambling.

Banglamung District Chief Chakorn Kanchawattana is defending his raid on the Jomtien & Pattaya Bridge Club saying bridge games will be allowed in Pattaya only if they are sanctioned as competitions by the Contract Bridge League of Thailand.

The raid, which sparked humiliating headlines and worldwide ridicule of Pattaya-area officials and police, saw the arrest and detention of 32 elderly retirees as old as 84. They were released on 5,000 baht bail and had their passports confiscated. Charges still are pending and could be left to a judge to sort out.

At the meeting, Chakorn said charges were playing bridge without permission, having more cards than legally allowed and selling alcohol outside specified times.

Chakorn said, in the future, bridge games will be legal if they are organized by an association as sports competition. In the case of the raided game – which has been advertised online and off for more than 20 years – the district chief said the game was organized “stealthily” without permission, as the club was not licensed.

“The police had no attention to bully tourists, but they must follow the law,” Chakorn said in defense. “Banglamung District willingly supports an official bridge competition as an actual sport.”