View Full Version : More fallout over Greek game ban

tlr online
14-02-03, 01:39
Since we posted the original controversy, here's an update from www.wired.com (http://www.wired.com)

The government is standing by its controversial law banning electronic games in public, which Greek judges consider unconstitutional. But the European Union has warned Greece: Drop it or get hauled into court for hampering the free movement of goods. Designed to stop illegal gambling, the law casts its net too wide, the EU says, ensnaring innocent Internet café owners and computer game companies.

Greece ignored its first caution, an official letter sent in October. The EU will try to press its point again later this month. Like Pandora, the Greek government has opened an Xbox of trouble, which comes just as Greece assumes the EU presidency and prepares to host the World Congress on Information Technology and the Summer Olympics in 2004.

The law - dubbed 3037 - passed quickly last July, fueled by scandal. A prominent politician was caught playing an illegal slot machine. "Parliament took this decision spontaneously, and under unbearable pressure to wipe out the 'cancer' of gambling," said Panos Livitsanos, a technology journalist. "As a result they voted one of the most excessive, unprepared and extreme laws ever enacted in Europe."

Christos Folias, a Greek member of European Parliament, hopes his country will act without intervention from Brussels. The government has done a half-baked job with this law," he said. "It's embarrassing to admit this, but it's the lesser of two evils."

But politicians here show no sign of reconsidering - an unending source of frustration for Greek gamers. "The government stubbornly refuses to see how wrong their acts are," said Bill Mitsis, co-webmaster of the site Gameland, where 19,000 people have petitioned to overturn the gaming ban. (The government's) only 'success' so far was to harm the country's international image and make an important percentage of the population into outlaws."

Greek entrepreneurial tycoon Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of the easyInternetcafé chain and a handful of other "easy" businesses, agreed. "I hope the government will see the light and stop trying to enforce a ridiculous law," he said. "This is not the way to bridge the digital divide. EasyInternetcafé is very close to entering the Greek market and will fight this."

Government spokesman Christos Protopapas defended the law: "The measure is a tough one, but it is the only effective one, as ordinary electronic games can easily be converted into illegal games by the owners of such facilities."

The law's broad scope initially outlawed all gaming - even at home. But an international outcry forced politicians to back down. They narrowed the ban to include only devices generating "any form of financial gain for players or third parties" at the end of September.

Game importers and Internet cafés remain vulnerable. Police are cracking down on players of Counter-Strike, Age of Empires, and digital backgammon and chess. More than 50 people have been arrested and face up to three months in prison and 5,000-euro fines.

A lower court in the northern city of Thessaloniki threw out the first case, declaring the law unconstitutional. Other district judges have followed suit. Such rulings are unusual, pitting the judicial system against the state. The results are chaotic, according to Nikos Kakayanis, spokesman for the Hellenic Association of Internet Café Owners. "In Larissa, the police arrested an owner and seized 10 PCs from his store," Kakayanis said. "Just five days after he was declared innocent by the court, the police arrested him again and seized another 20 PCs."

A higher court - which has no power to overturn the law - will examine an appeal on Feb. 26. The case could take an additional 12 to 18 months to reach the Supreme Court of Areios Pagos. "By that time, there wouldn't be any Internet cafés left," Kakayanis said. Owners claim business has already been halved.

Other companies are struggling, too, including JVH Hellas, which imported Photo Play consoles and knowledge games such as Trivial Pursuit. The company withdrew 7,000 machines from the market and estimates its loss at 2.9 million euros. "If the case goes to the European court, we will win," said Nikos Serdaris, the company's managing director. "The problem is that it will take time, and I don't think that we will survive."

14-02-03, 07:39
No wonder Elen's progress on TR3 has been a bit stunted lately. She keeps getting shaken down by the cops!!

14-02-03, 21:30
Did you Scottlee???? I was cought by the police last week because they came at my place and saw I was playing TR3!!! :eek: I spent two days (and nights) in a cell begging them to release me but they didn't hear me. Suddenly, I saw a shadow in my cell and I was scared... No, it wasn't Lara... It was the police officer who came and told me that I was free. But he warned me... not to play again...

Whew!!! What a relief!!! I said my little secret...

17-02-03, 11:16
When you were in your cell, was there a green line on your window sill?

Did you release some fellow prisoners and get them to beat up the cops?
Did you remember to take the yellow code keys from the dead bodies of the cops?
Did you flood the toilets and go back to them for a swim?
Did you go back for secret #2?


[ 17 February 2003, 11:20: Message edited by: Scottlee ]

17-02-03, 18:25
was there a green line on your window sill? Yes!!!! How did you know that???!!!??? :D

Did you release some fellow prisoners and get them to beat up the cops? No, I could do it by myself ;)

Did you remember to take the yellow code keys from the dead bodies of the cops? Of course... How I could forget that???? :D

Did you flood the toilets and go back to them for a swim? No, I found another way to go to the kitchen ;)

Did you go back for secret #2? I didn't have to... A small bird brought it to me :D

DID YOU GET YOUR SACRED COPY OF TOMB RAIDER 3 BACK? No :mad: They was so bad that they didn't gave it back to me :mad: But I don't care because I have another one :D