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Greek ban on gaming threatens Internet cafes

There's a weird logic to it, though

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A Register reader in Greece emails us claiming that the Greek government has effectively outlawed Internet cafes by "all LAN and Internet games and any kind of game that is supported by electrical, electronic or software means." If anybody so much as has something looking like a game on the screen, he tells us, the cafe manager is liable for arrest.

All of this makes some kind of perverted sense. Computers in Internet cafes are gaming machines, sort of. Or at least they have that potential, and Greece has already shown signs of considering them as such. More recently, Greece banned all amusement and gambling machines, including the likes of Pac Man.

You pay for computers in Internet cafes, you can play games on them, so yes, there you go. And a little further research leads us to believe that Greece's position is maybe not so wildly eccentric as one might initially think. Here in the UK one does have to pay duty on gaming and amusement machines in public places. You can get a little more information about the position by tearing through this section of the 1995 Finance Act, but frankly we do not recommend it.

It would however seem logical to us for Internet cafe machines playing games to be classed somewhere within the amusement machines category, and therefore liable for duty. If they're not, then pubs installing computers instead of amusement machines could be on to a good wrinkle. So, some form of cafe tax? OK, but what, then, are we going to do about all of those people in pubs who'll sometime soon be whipping out their 3G phones in order to play online games?

In Greece, obviously, they'll just arrest the nearest bar manager, while in London's West End we foresee a variation on traffic wardens slapping Internetting Tickets on careless mobile gamers... ®

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