Greeks Fight to Play Gameboy in Public
By Linda
Greek government restrictions on internet gambling is so strict gamers are having to put up a fight to play on their Gameboy or Playstations in public.

The legislation came into force at the beginning of August as part of a policy to clamp down on illegal gambling in the country.

But the law has been criticised for not making a distinction between interactive gambling and computer games.

'Theoretically the police can arrest you if you are using your PC for playing games or if your employer catches you playing chess or backgammon on Yahoo,' said a statement from the Greek Internet Café Union which is fighting the ban.

Officials told the BBC that even though the law bans the playing of games on PCs and consoles at home it will only be pursuing gamers who flout it in public places such as internet cafes.

The first case of its kind will come before the Greek courts next week following the arrest of two people who allowed gamers to play the popular online game, Counter-Strike.

They face fines of 150,000 euro (£95,000) and up to 12 months imprisonment.

'The whole matter could remain in the sphere of comedy if it didn't concern directly the employment of thousands of people,' said the Greek Internet Café Union.

'In China they prohibit access to political sites, in some other countries prevent connection to sites of sexual content and in Greece it is illegal to use personal computers and games consoles for playing games,' it continued.

If the letter of the law is enforced, the union said the next stage would be to ban the selling of games and legal action against Microsoft to remove games from the Greek version of Windows.

But officials say they have no plans to ban the import of consoles or to take legal action against Microsoft's operating system.

The gaming community has accused the government of taking the country back to the 1970s when individuals were arrested for playing cards at home.

Along with owners of Greece's many internet cafes, it is determined to make its voice heard.

Greek gaming site www.gameland.gr has launched an online petition against the ban and has had 14,000 signatures so far.

 
 
 
 
 
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