ransport for London, the local body responsible for London’s transport network, plans to ban gambling ads across its advertising network, as requested by mayor Sadiq Khan.
During his re-election campaign earlier this year Khan pledged to ban gambling advertisements in the London Underground, commonly known as “the tube”, due to the “devastating way gambling addiction can destroy lives and families,” reports Standards.
Only between April and June this year, TfL ran 49 gambling-related advertising campaigns across its networks. The figure is almost the same as the entire 2018/2019 financial year, when there were 61 gambling ad campaigns across the network.
As the number of gambling promotions has increased despite financial struggles faced by many Londoners today, it has been reported that Sian Berry, who ran as the Green Party’s candidate in this year’s mayoral election, raised the issue in a recent meeting of the London Assembly.
According to the previously cited news source, Berry asked the Mayor of London whether this increase in ads was “appropriate”, to which Khan responded in a written statement saying that he shared the concerns. Moreover, the mayor confirmed that he has formally asked TfL to “bring forward” its plans to ban gambling adverts.
A TfL spokesperson confirmed this week that it was assessing how the proposed ban could be implemented, although Transport for London does not yet have a timeframe for when it will be in place.
“We have been asked by the Mayor to consider restricting gambling advertising campaigns on our network,” said the spokesperson, according to This is Local London. “We are assessing how this will be implemented and will be engaging with a range of stakeholders to inform this.”
Pressure is also growing in another adverts segment: those promoting what has been called “risky investments”, although Khan has admitted these ads are more difficult to regulate as they do not fall into one predetermined category. Earlier this year, a campaign by a crypto trading platform encouraging to buy Bitcoin was pulled following a review, despite TfL’s initial ok-signal.
Khan’s regulations on adverts also saw a decision in 2019 to ban all junk food ads across TfL networks in an effort to tackled childhood obesity. The measure is estimated to have cost Transport for London between £13 million and £25 million a year in advertising revenue.
It is unclear so far how much would TfL lose in revenue by banning gambling adverts in its networks. On the subject, the body has said it is difficult to assess as “many factors” influence advertising revenue year-on-year.