At a time when local and national cinemas are struggling for survival we can make better use of their facilities and provide a remedy for a seriously difficult and damaging social problem. Gambling is a problem that can destroy our communities. "Gamble responsibly" is easier said than done for far too many.
We all know of broken families, debt, stressed relationships, ruined business and, of local suicides, as a consequence of gambling. Not nearly enough money or expertise is spent on tackling the mental health issues around gambling, let alone its prevention. There is a 'social club' comfort in betting shops. Warmth, some friendships routine, friendly opening hours, phone and online bets, wall to wall screens, light refreshments widening choice of gambling options. Its a soft killer.
Cinemas have developed live gallery openings, rock shows, theatre, drawing in customers and new audiences in excellent facilities with hi tech resources. The size of Screen is everything in 2020! With a change in the law could cinemas relay live football racing and rugby etc in a safer sports environment? This would provide a 'sports competition fix' - without the subtle or forced pressure to spend and gamble.
Indeed, Cinemas could provide a practical and enjoyable way out of the everyday Gambling 'hotspots' for sport fans and help avoid the financial ruin of the foolhardy.
Its time to consider a wider social role for Cinemas before they disappear from our communities through the Covid 19 crisis or are overtaken by home streaming and lock downs.
Cllr Doug James
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