Legal quagmire stymies operation of justice

Law 3037/2002, which was instituted after a scandal that rocked Patras and then the entire country, bans all kinds of electronic games, even Pac-Man. As a result, not only do those who gamble in illegal clubs go unpunished, but those in control of them reap huge profits. The courts basically refuse to implement Law 3037, citing a ruling by the European Court (which found that the law violates provisions on the free movement of goods) and therefore since 2006 no one brought to trial has ever been convicted. Paradoxically, the law does not ban the import and sale of these games, but only their installation and operation. Meanwhile there is no provision banning traditional dice games. «We arrest them, even with evidence such as marked bank notes, and then the courts acquit them. They even get back their equipment and the money that we seized from them,» said a police officer. «To prove that computers in Internet cafes contain illegal software, we need to have confidentiality clauses lifted. But there is no provision for the relevant procedure with respect to violations of the gambling law.» Police say the cafes with electronic games are controlled by three or four people who import the equipment, take 40 percent of the takings and get off scot-free.