Gamers face jail in Greece

Gamers face jail in Greece

Summary: A new law passed in Greece means that anybody carrying an electronic game - even if it is just on a mobile phone - could face a hefty fine or lengthy jail sentence

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TOPICS: Hardware
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Thousands of British tourists in Greece are unknowingly facing heavy fines or long terms in prison for owning mobile phones or portable video games. The Greek government has banned all electronic games across Greece, including those in home computers, Game Boy-style portable consoles, and on mobile phones.

Law Number 3037, enacted at the end of July, explicitly forbids electronic games with 'electronic mechanisms and software' from public and private places, and people have already been fined tens of thousands of euros for playing or owning games.

Internet cafes are allowed to continue to operate, providing all gaming is prohibited: if a client is found to be running any sort of game, including online chess, the café owner will be fined and the place closed. The law applies equally to visitors from abroad: "If you know these things are banned, you should not bring them in," said the commercial attaché at the Greek Embassy in London -- who declined to give her name.

The law was passed to prevent illegal gambling. According to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, "The police will be responsible for catching offenders, who will face fines of 5,000 to 75,000 euros and imprisonment of one to 12 months. The blanket ban was decided in February after the government admitted it was incapable of distinguishing innocuous video games from illegal gambling machines." One online report said that even watching a film on DVD -- many of which contain promotional games linked to the movie -- had resulted in an arrest and a 10,000-euro fine.

The Greek gaming community has reacted with a mixture of shock, disbelief and anger. One site, www.gameland.gr, has opened a petition and a news service on the ban, as well as providing English translations of the law and messages of support from around the world.

A test case is to come before the Greek courts next week, and the Greek gaming community is already planning protests in the event that the defendant is convicted.

"We are trying to organise a protest against this law," said Petros Tipis of Thessaloniki-based gaming company Reload Entertainment, which has had to cancel a gaming tournament that was to be held this week.

If the prosecution of the defendant next week is successful, said Tipis, the Greek gaming industry will take the case to the European Court.

In the meantime, Tipis told ZDNet UK, a lot of people in Greece are very worried about the new law. "They are taking it very seriously," he said. "It even affects the games that come with Windows. This law isn't the right one," he added. "It is unfair. It was introduced too quickly."

Reload's tournament, which was to be held on 6 September, was a qualifier for the CPL Oslo 2002 gaming tournament. "Now we are trying not to lose the two slots we were given from CPL for the tournament," said Tipis. "This was the first time for a qualifier (for this tournament) in Greece."

For further information on this story, see Rupert Goodwins' column: No fun, no games, as Greece takes a gamble.


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Topic: Hardware

Rupert Goodwins

About Rupert Goodwins

Rupert started off as a nerdy lad expecting to be an electronics engineer, but having tried it for a while discovered that journalism was more fun. He ended up on PC Magazine in the early '90s, before that evolved into ZDNet UK - and Rupert evolved with them into an online journalist.

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Talkback

28 comments
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  • Your article is no way related to the truth, any law that has been passed on that subject is related only to electronic gambling. But I can comprehended that some time interests rise above truth.

    You should be ashamed that you have distorted truth in that way.
    anonymous
  • Give me just a name of any single person of greek or of any other nationality who was fined for carrying a mobile phone or his favourite console in Greece...For your own information the law pertains only to certain internet cafes and the "illegal"(disgrace!) coin machines.We still play ps2,go for counter strike every afternoon and no communistic or facistic kind of goverment invades our home to fine us for having a pc and hundrends of games!!I mean give some some credit to the country that taught the world,including your ancestors,what democracy means.So much disformation from your article makes me doubt the solvency of the writers.I cant but feel sorry for the "decadence" image of my country your article promotes.Just pls do your research beforehand for the good of your readers.
    anonymous
  • I'm a very hardcore gamer and if what u say is true than they arent human. I highly doubt they dont let u play games. If they wont let u play a simple game like fire emblem: the sacred stones for gba (fav game) then thats as cruel as slavery, but like I wrote earlier what u are claiming is unbelievable and highly doubtfull.
    anonymous
  • o and get the facts before u start posting things and about my occupation I didnt mean I live in america. I am america and now america hates u for posting such a thing.
    anonymous
  • I apologize america really doesn't hate u. please dont bomb america for me saying that. XD. I'm actually 13 years old.
    anonymous
  • WTF?!! Is the Greek Government suffering from some mental disease or something? Wow!
    anonymous
  • This is fucking stupid.
    anonymous
  • This is fucking stupid.
    anonymous
  • This brings to mind the time when books and people were burnt. Ignorance + power = destroy things you don't understand. Europeans, do something about this.
    anonymous
  • Im pretty much speachless... I don't know what on earth would possess a government to completely ban electronic gaming. Then again, I'm not Greek, so I dont know the culture.. perhaps gaming isn't very popular. It still seems insane to me to outlaw something, that in North America, is more popular than books.
    anonymous
  • evil. just plain evil.
    anonymous
  • This sucks...
    anonymous
  • greece should really catch up with the modern world and realize that gaming is something very importatnt. for one game developers will lose jobs, people who sell the games, like vendors will lose jobs, wtf not even microsoft windows games? ... whats next those fucktarts are gonna ban sex?
    anonymous
  • isn't there some sort of violation to arrest and fine tourists that have no idea about the law that visit Greece? Doesn't the Greek government know that Windows come with games pre-installed? What bullshit.
    anonymous
  • you have to be kidding me about this ! this is unreal, I can't beleive it.I have a son that is 7 and we vacation in Greece and his gameboy is what makes happy at times when he is missing the things he is used to back in the us ,and a handheld gameboy that is not plugged into a phone jack and he is 7 so he not playing gambleing games I think he should be allowed to sit quietly with earphones so not to distract anyone else and play his game.I would possible expect this from another country or time but not from Greece,I can understand possibly the online gambeling but GAMEBOY COME ON!!!!!!!!
    anonymous
  • holy....frigging....crap, am i ever glad they lifted this. who the hell decided this? Prolly some dumb-ass polictician who lots all his money at like....the Mount Olympus Casino and got really bitter.
    anonymous
  • best law ever
    anonymous
  • anyone want to come to my LAN party in Athens?
    anonymous
  • I do not believe that there is a normal person with logical IQ who believes that is article is true.
    I am afraid that the person who has write this atricle must have an IQ of 10 maximum maybe 12.
    anonymous
  • Really tho...the only thing sadder than this article is the number of people who ::apparently:: believed it.....mental head slap.....

    I mean come on people lets not believe everything we read on the Internet/in the newspaper/see on TV. Don't you think there would be a revolt or something?

    Then again, in my country, they passed a law allegedly keeping kids in school, but instead use it to require schools to report the names/Social Security numbers of their students to Selective Services. And nobody really said shit. Except Barbra Boxer. She rocks.

    Go CALIFORNIA!!!!!!!!!!
    anonymous