Thailand: Irish person arrested in army raid of bridge club

VIDEO: 12 detained in gambling crackdown under obscure rule governing number of playing cards allowed

Updated 11.40

An Irish person is among 12 people arrested after Thai policed raided a bridge club, as part of a gambling crackdown in Thailand.

Officials raided the three times a week gathering in Pattaya, a resort town known for seedy go-go bars and organised crime links, after the country's anti-corruption centre received a complaint from a member of the public.

Even though the club's chairman explained the group were playing for points rather than money, 32 foreigners were arrested for gambling, Pattaya police superintendent Colonel Suthat Pumphanmuang told AFP.

He added that all but one of those arrested were freed on a 5,000 baht (€125) bail after 12 hours in custody. The final person was unable to pay bail and remains in jail.

A video of the raid has been posted on Youtube by a user called Yang Guo at Pattaya

Police said those arrested included 12 British nationals, three Norwegians, three Swedes, two Australians, a German, a Dane, a Canadian, a New Zealander and a Dutch and Irish national. The other nationalities were not made public.

Archaic rule

The Pattaya One newspaper reported the group were arrested under an obscure section of the 1935 Playing Cards Act, which states that an individual is not allowed to possess more than 120 playing cards at any one time.

Computers, decks of cards and a book with results of the bridge games were seized by officers as evidence.

A message on the website of the Jomtien and Pattaya Bridge Club, which has reportedly been operating bridge nights since 1994, said it was temporarily closed "whilst we get a licence to have cards on the premises".

Political motivation

Since seizing power in 2014, Thai junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha has vowed to crackdown on a raft of social ills including corruption and criminal networks, both foreign and domestic.

He has set up a corruption centre where members of the public can inform officials of alleged abuses or crimes.

The Immigration Bureau recently rolled out a new slogan: "Good guys in, bad guys out".