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Gambling Grandmas’ Busted During Mahjong Game in Florida

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You would think that a very dangerous gang of international gamblers got shut down by the police in Florida. Well, things are not quite like that. ‘Gambling grandmas’ is a nickname for the 80 somethings that spent time wagering every Thursday at the Escondido Condominium retirement community.

Gambling Grandmas’ Busted During Mahjong Game in Florida

Zelda King, 87, organized the weekly game, saying that the daily “loss limit” is just $4. “Is that gambling?” she told incredulously to a British newspaper. It seems that a male resident got suspicious of four elderly women who met every week to play a game called mahjong at their clubhouse. The ‘crime scene’ was a random table near the pool at Escondido Condominium in Altamonte Springs. Authorities said that a snitch told the cops where to go and check the situation.

Someone complained about the games and gambling at the condo and tipped off the state authorities. The gambling group included Zelda King and three other Jewish women, including a World War II survivor. The four 80 somethings used to play $5 bingo and penny-ante poker at night. The Miami Herald called this ‘bust’ ridiculous and admitted her neurologist advised her to play such games because it’s great for her brain.

Immediately after the complaint, the Altamonte Sprins PD sent a detective to investigate. Authorities perused the clubhouse and found a leaflet with a ‘horse racing’ announcement taped right on the door.

Well, you would think something nasty was gonna happen there, yet ‘horse racing’ is just a game in which the simple roll of two dice determines how fast your horse goes, at least at the condo complex it is.

That short announcement also mentioned bringing small bills. There are several games such as mahjong and even poker that are allowed by Florida state, yet advertising is not allowed and the winning pot must not go over $10. The state authorities provided the condo with a copy of the legislation regarding playing such games.

Even if the police quickly deemed those games as harmless because of the low stakes and apologized for the incovenience, the Escondido Condominium shut down the condo to all games that involve money, including Frank Muscarella’ poker games (played for pennies).

The gambling grandmas said that they now feel like some outlaws. Zelda King told the authorities that the whole group did their best to hold the games safe from prying eyes, but it did not work out. King’s biggest fear is that, in addition to banning the games, the gang will break up. The purpose of the gambling was not the money, but the social thing.

News Reached Israel

News of the crackdown made headlines in all major online newspapers, including The Times of Israel. The gang of four 80 somethings quickly became famous. In the end, the Jewish women were not charged as there is no law prohibiting mahjong.

King’s game-mates are all between 86 and 90 years old. She admitted that she has been playing for more than 13 years, after she moved to Florida from New Jersey. The Jewish women told the press that it was not just them the police shut down. The clubhouse management banned all bingo, poker and other mahjong games too until the matter could be finally resolved.

Finally, it was nothing illegal about it. Mahjong games are a very deeply rooted tradition in the Jewish world, and even if the news reached Israel, it seems that everything is fine. Zelda King knows who was the snitch, she called him a “troublemaker”, but in the spirit of the holidays, she declined to name him.

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