The Commission has referred Greece to the European Court of Justice over its ban on the installation and operation of electrical, electromechanical and electronic games, including computer games, in all public and private places – including premises providing Internet services (cyber cafés).
The Commission considers that the Greek law in question (29 July 2002) is incompatible with the provisions of the EC Treaty on the free movement of goods and services and the freedom of establishment.
Despite promising to amend its legislation in response to the Commission’s reasoned opinion sent in April 2004, Greece has yet to introduce any change.
The Commission believes that the Greek legislation is disproportionate, insofar as it applies not only to equipment (slot machines) and games of chance which might give rise to social concerns but also to games of an entirely different nature which are not, in themselves, a source of particular disquiet with regard to public order or consumer protection.
By banning the games themselves, the Greek law has prevented games lawfully produced or marketed in other Member States from being imported and marketed in Greece, in contravention of the principle of the free movement of goods laid down in Article 28 of the EC Treaty.
By prohibiting service activities related to electronic games – such as their maintenance – the ban stops businesses which provide such services legitimately in other Member States from providing the same services in Greece.
If the Commission obtains or receives convincing evidence from a complainant that an infringement of EU law is taking place, it first sends the Member States concerned a letter of formal notice.
If the Member State does not reply with information allowing the case to be closed, the Commission sends a reasoned opinion, the second step of the infringement proceedings under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may then decide to refer the case to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
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