Greece Lifts Ban On Electronic Games
By Karolos Grohmann
ATHENS (Reuters) - Its game on again for Greek computer buffs who had been banned by the government from playing electronic games.
The government, in an effort to curtail illegal gaming, passed a law earlier this year banning the use of electronic games, including popular football and motor racing simulators.
It arrested bar and arcade owners for illegally converting machines to pay out cash instead of bonus playing time.
But on Tuesday night, the Finance Ministry gave the green light for the use of electronic games on condition "no financial benefit" was involved.
"The installation and use of games in homes and residential areas is allowed if there is no financial benefit involved," the ministry said. "The same applies to public and private areas...if again there is no financial gain for the player or any third party."
The ministry issued the clarification after a barrage of complaints from Internet cafe owners and private game console owners who said the recent law was unconstitutional and did not allow the use of equipment that was legally on sale.
Even foreign tourists playing portable battery-operated games were seen breaking the law.
But no more.
"There is no problem for any individual or tourist visiting Greece who plays electronic games such as Playstation, Gameboy, X-Box etc," the ministry said.
Greece allows gambling only inside a handful of state-licensed casinos.
In the first court case involving the new anti-gaming law, a northern Greek court 10 days ago dismissed charges against two Internet cafe owners, who had been taken to court charged with assisting two customers in online gambling.
The judge claimed the law was unconstitutional. The owners were found innocent and their clients were allowed to continue their online chess game.
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