European Union to fend Greek gambling ban
The European Commission warned Tuesday it will challenge a Greek decision to curb its citizens' passion for gambling by banning slot machines. The Greek parliament adopted a law July 11 that bans electronic gaming machines in all places except the country's seven casinos.

A growing number of shops, hotels, cafes and restaurants have installed the machines, and the gambling habit was estimated to cost the average Greek 359 Euros (406 dollars) a year. While the government said it was concerned to prevent illegal gambling, the European Commission said it should have been consulted first about the legality of the measure.

The commission said the law could be described as 'disproportionate' because it banned both games of chance that 'might give rise to social concerns' and games that posed no risk to public order or to consumers. It also said Greece should have given advance notice of the law because of its possible impact on Internet service providers.

The commission said it had warned Greece even before the law was adopted that 'prohibiting electrical, electromechanical and electronic games in all public places, with the exception of casinos, could in practice restrict the import of these products in contravention of the rules of the EC Treaty on the free movement of goods.'

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