Court finds online chess is not illegal

A controversial new anti-gambling law that also bans Internet cafe owners from letting their clients play online computer games was judged unconstitutional yesterday in its first court test. A Thessaloniki court acquitted three local Internet cafe owners who had been arrested on August 27 after police found people playing online chess and another Internet computer game in their establishments. The Court of First Instance ruled that the law, passed at the end of May, contravened constitutional provisions on the free movement of ideas. Yiannis Kyfonidis, Christos Iordanidis and Vangelis Alatzoglou had faced jail terms of one to 12 months and fines of 5,000 to 75,000 euros. The law, which attracted strong criticism, was passed in order to crack down on illegal slot machines, which the government admitted were beyond its power to control.