Thailand extends Pattaya pubs darts ban nationwide

Published:  13 Mar at 6 PM
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January’s ban on the popular game of darts being played in Pattaya has now been extended to cover the entire country.

Expats enjoying a night out along with a game of darts in several of Pattaya’s bars-cum-pubs were horrified last month when local police stormed in and confiscated the dart boards. The reason given was that a permit was needed before the traditional British game could take place. Unfortunately, no-one, the police included, had any idea where to locate such a permit nor much idea why darts should be considered a threat.

Old-timer Pattaya residents were reminded of a similar situation last year where armed police arrived during an expat game of bridge and arrested all 32 players, the majority of whom were pensioners. The players, including one 84-year old Dutch expat woman, were held at the police station for hours and released under a charge of having too many unregistered playing cards. Apparently, Pattaya police were under the impression that playing bridge included gambling, banned in Thailand but still taking place all across the country.

After an online storm of social media comments concerning dartboards had been unleashed, head of the Bangkok-based national darts association Vichai Govindani came clean, saying the law against playing darts dated from 1935, and also included bingo, pool, snooker, mahjong and a good number of other harmless entertainments. According to Vichai, the law should be endorsed by municipal officers, not by local police, and permits can be obtained free of charge from his association.

Unsurprisingly, Pattaya expat darts fans are not best thrilled by the wholesale confiscation of dartboards, with many seeing it as yet another attack on Thailand’s expat community. Pattaya’s popular darts league contest has now been suspended until the dartboards are returned and the authorities accept that no gambling was taking place. This being Thailand, expat bar owners attempting to get written permission for their customers to play darts are now being warned about offers of fake certificates in exchange for cash.
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