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Greece bans gaming

  You thought carding for M-rated games was bad? Video games in general are now banned in Greece. The government has banned any type of electronic game from PC games to handhelds – even games on cellular phones. Thousands of unknowing people visiting Greece are being faced with fines, or even prison time, for possession of portable game consoles and cell phones.

   At the end of July, Greece enacted Law Number 3037, which explicitly prohibits the use of any device with “electronic mechanisms and software” in public and private places. Tens of thousands of dollars have been fined for simple possession of games. The law does not just adhere to Greek citizens, but to visitors from other countries as well. A commercial attaché at the Greek Embassy in London had this to say, “If you know these things are banned, you should not bring them in.”

   Among businesses to be affected by this law are Internet cafes, which will be allowed to continue operation provided they have no game-playing activity. The café owner will be fined and his/her establishment will shutdown if a customer is found playing so much as a chess game online. The law was originally introduced as a means to put a stop to illegal gambling. The Greek newspaper Kathimerini reports that catching offenders, who will be fined 5,000 to 75,000 euros (about $4,980 to $74,650) and possible imprisonment of one month to a year, will be the responsibility of Greek police. From said report, “The blanket ban was decided it February after the government admitted it was incapable of distinguishing innocuous video games from illegal gambling machines.”

   The law has sparked reactions of anger, shock, and disbelief among the gaming community of Greece. has begun a news service, which will provide information concerning the ban and has started a petition to protest it. The site will also be translating the law into English, as well as support messages from around the world.

   Next week, the Greek courts will hear a test case, and plans of protests in the event that the defendant is convicted are already being made by the Greek gaming community. Thessaloniki-based gaming company Reload Entertainment had this to say, “We are trying to organize a protest against this law.” Reload Entertainment had to cancel a gaming tournament that was scheduled for this week. If the defendant is prosecuted, the Greek gaming industry will present their case to the European Court.

   The new law has many people in Greece very worried. “They are taking it very seriously,” Tipis says. “It even affects the games that come with Windows. This law isn’t the right one. It is unfair. It was introduced too quickly.”

   The tournament Reload was supposed to hold this Friday was a qualifier for the CPL Oslo 2002 gaming tournament. Said Tipis, “Now we are trying to lose the two slot we were given from CPL for the tournament. This was the first time for a qualifier (for this tournament) in Greece.”

9/3/2002 Lucas Stephens

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