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The Greek Government is having second thoughts about imposing a gaming tax on cybercafes in a move that would class them alongside amusement arcades filed with slot machines.

On Wednesday, the Finance Ministry announced that anyone who operates a PC for commercial use in public areas - such as cybercafes, hotels, and clubs - must now pay tax for each machine.

According to the Athens News Agency, the levy - due to be introduced on January 1 2002 - could be as high as E1,000 (£750) for each machine.

Owners could be fined if gaming is carried out on un-taxed machines.

Tax officials believe that since Internet cafes can be used for online gaming they must be taxed as gambling machines.

However, there has been such an outcry that the Government is now reconsidering its plans.

Vangelis Doussis, owner of the Hypercorner Internet cafe in Athens told The Register that the tax might not be imposed after all.

"I don't know what's going to happen. Everyone's really unhappy about this," he said.

But scores of cybercafes would go out of business if the tax is introduced, he warned.

Mr Doussis is so concerned about the situation that he is even considering closing down until the matter blows over. With 16 PCs in his cybercafe if the proposals were introduced it could cost would cost him an extra E16,000 (£10,000) a year. ®

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