Gambling is strictly regulated in Greece. Greek politicians, when introduced to internet gambling, faced a conundrum. How do you prevent online gambling? Experts were brought in to show that it is almost impossible to detect if a computer game was rewarding people with money, or penalizing them for losing. The Greek government conceded the point. They could not realistically tell if a game was a game of chance, redistributing money illegally. So, they took the only reasonable solution available to them, at the end of July, with Greek Law Number 3037. They banned all computer games.

All electronic games with "electronic mechanisms and software" were specifically forbidden by law, from both public and private possession. The Greek newspaper Kathimerini reports that Greek police will be authorized to find gamers violators of the law, and those convicted face fines of 5,000 to 75,000 euros, or about $4,980 to $74,650. They will also spend "at least three months of jail" time for the offense. This law also applies to visitors, in much the same manner as the US would prosecute someone flying into JFK with their own personal stash of heroin, even if it was for personal use only. "The blanket ban was decided in February after the government admitted it was incapable of distinguishing innocuous video games from illegal gambling machines."

There are online petitions protesting the decision, and various places on the net have posted the text of the entire law. Most people express complete disbelief upon reading this the first time. One might suggest that the Greek politicians outlaw the Olympics next, since sports have always been known to be popular betting fodder. And after all, it's awfully hard to tell which sports are being bet on...

According to a translation by a Greek video game site, the law defines the outlawed games as:

  1. Electrical games are those, that depend on electrical mechanisms.
  2. Electromechanical games are those that depend on electrical mechanisms and the use of one's muscle force.
  3. Electronic games are those, that depend on both electrical-electronic mechanisms and software. - A greek gaming site, currently busy protesting the law - the law translated into English

After a gracious offer for help in confirming this and scanning through a copy of the original Greek text at

alex says I identify the document as excerpted from the government gazette, as the complete text of the law, and it doesn't take a legal eagle to say that it's every bit as draconian as it's reported to be.

And then with a great bit of info which goes a ways to explain how this monstrosity came to be...

DyRE says according to someone living in Greece on MetaFilter (I know, not an authoritive source, but it may help shed some light on the why of this), arcades in Greece have been using generic machines running illegal copies of the whatever games are popular at the moment. there can be several different games available in one machine, so apparently a lot of arcade owners made one of the options a gambling game like video poker or some such thing. so in order to shut these down, which are supposedly all over the place, the govt. passed this law. i still think it's dumb but it puts a bit more perspective on it. this info. comes from - the user "costas" is the Greek providing the info.