Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has included a promise in his manifesto to prohibit gambling ads on the London Underground ahead of the forthcoming mayoral elections.
In 2018, the Labour Party politician barred fast food ads on the city’s underground rail system. If re-elected on May 6, he intends to apply the ban on advertising to betting marketing.
The Mayor’s manifesto reads: “I’ve already banned body-shaming advertisements and advertisements for foods high in fat, salt and sugar on the TfL network because of their impact on the health of Londoners.
“Given the devastating way gambling addiction can destroy lives and families, I’ll instruct TfL to bring forward plans to extend the ban to harmful gambling advertisements on the network.”
TfL advertisement revenue
However, the ban will not be well received by Transport for London (TfL), whose advertisement revenue, which includes millions from gambling operators, is critical to its overall financial network as well as that of of the capital as a whole, accounting for roughly 40 percent of the city’s outdoor advertising sales.
TfL is now planned to reinvest over £156 million in advertisement revenue into the London Underground, which has been hit badly by the COVID-19 pandemic due to a drop in passenger numbers.
Khan’s announcement came as the industry’s advertisements and overall oversight come under increased pressure from media figures and lawmakers on all sides of the political aisle.
Advertising a crucial topic for scrutiny
It has also been revealed that the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) review of the 2005 Gambling Act would result in a full ban on betting company jersey sponsorships and advertisements in professional football.
Boris Johnson’s senior cabinet members are said to have backed the decision, while Labour MP Carolyn Harris of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Harms (AAPG GH) described it as a “common sense” outcome of the study.
In addition, the APPG GH recently chastised the Camelot Group, the UK National Lottery’s operator, for advertising its business in the House of Commons magazine.
Responsible gambling lobbying organisations such as GamCare have identified advertising as a crucial topic for scrutiny, with 80 percent of respondents in its living reality polls in favour of a blanket ban on betting firms funding sporting events.