Transport for London (TfL) said it began exploring ways to ban gambling ads on its ad network after Mayor Sadiq Khan urged the government to develop a plan.

Earlier this year, London Mayor Khan, as part of his re-election, pledged to ban advertising of gambling on the London Underground, citing the devastating impact of gambling addiction on the lives and families of those who suffer from it.

According to official statistics, TfL has run just under 50 gambling-related ad campaigns on its London network. A TfL spokesman said last week that a government department tasked with overseeing much of London’s transport network has begun engaging with a number of stakeholders to assess how the ban could be enacted. The spokesman also confirmed that they were approached by Mayor Khan with a request to consider restricting advertising of gambling.

News that TfL is considering ways to ban advertising of games and betting products came shortly after Green Party member Siân Berry raised the issue at a recent London Assembly meeting. Ms Berry was her party’s nominee in the last mayoral election.

During the aforementioned meeting, the politician asked Mr. Khan:

Do you think it is appropriate that Tube gambling advertisements have increased in light of the financial problems many Londoners are facing today due to the coronavirus pandemic?

In a written response to Ms Berry’s question, Mayor Khan said he shared her concerns and told her that he had called on TfL to come up with a plan to ban gambling on its network.

TfL, Sadiq Khan, Sadiq Khan, gambling, London

The timing of when the ban will go into effect has not yet been announced by the government agency as it is in the early stages of discussing how and when it will be enacted.

This is the latest evidence of growing pressure on TfL to ban advertising for products that represent "risky investments." Mayor Kang said:

Banning these promotions is a little more difficult as they don’t fall into a predefined category.

Losses from advertising bans

Earlier this year, the transport network ran an advertising campaign for a major cryptocurrency trading platform that encouraged customers to buy bitcoins. The controversial ad has successfully passed the initial TfL review.

Several years ago, Mayor Khan imposed a ban on all junk food advertising on all TfL networks as part of the city’s efforts to tackle childhood obesity. The move resulted in TfL losing £ 13 million to £ 25 million in ad revenue per year.

The government department said it is difficult to estimate how much it will lose as a result of the ban on gambling advertising, since there are many factors that affect annual advertising revenue.

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