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Malaysia closes down game arcades

Like opium to the nation's youth, apparently

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Malaysia has banned video game arcades, giving arcade owners just two months to shut up shop or face stiff penalties.

The Malaysian Government issued the dictat in fear less the nation's youth become hopelessly addicted to Tekken et al., the BBC has reported.

"[Video gaming] has [made] addicts out of the young. They need to go there every day or else they cannot sleep," said deputy prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Essentially, the Government has come to view gaming like gambling, which is illegal for Malaysia's majority Muslim population and highly restricted for everyone else.

Certainly, Malaysia's most popular video games - Horse Race and Pornographic Poker - offer virtual gambling and other... er... enticements.

However, arcade owners deny the gambling charge. "We don't encourage gambling but these centres have car racing, and other fun and healthy games," Sungei Wang Plaza shopping mall spokesman Stanley Kok told the AFP newsagency.

"It's a huge financial loss as the [arcade] operators have spent millions."

Kok said arcade owners are meeting to decide whether they will appeal against the ruling. ®

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