Skip To Content
The Schmooze

Police Defend Crackdown on Jewish Bubbes’ Mahjong Game

Who needs Sin City when you’ve got Altamonte Springs, Florida?

The mystery of the elderly Jewish mahjong gamblers is slowly unraveling. You might recall that a group of Jewish bubbes saw their regular mahjong get together had been busted by the police for gambling. Following up on that story, The Orlando Weekly reached out the police to get their side of the story.

Lt. Robert Pelton, spokesman for the Altamonte Springs Police Department, defended his department’s actions, specifying that while mahjong itself is legal, the real issue was with the “other gambling-activities happening in the clubhouse.”

“Roulette,” Pelton said. “It was the roulette tables that were making it illegal.”

RELATED: Jewish Bubbes Busted for Mahjong ‘Gambling Den’

The officer added that the police action was “educational,” rather than “punitive.”

“Our investigators had a good, informative meeting with them, telling them the way they can continue to legally have these games,” he said. “If you allow a pot to go over a certain amount, or if the house collects a portion of the pot, it’s illegal, etc.”

Pelton said that things went south because of neighborhood feuds that got out of hand. “They were upset because some neighbors called the police, and then we got called out to be the bad guys, but by no means is that true,” he told the Orlando Weekly.

“It’s a small community, a retirement community, and not all of the neighbors get along. For us, it wasn’t that we were going out there to make arrests and charge people having a good time.”

The question remains: who snitched on our gambling mahjong mavens?

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.