London’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan, love him or hate him, is beating a dead donkey in a bid to win re-election.
In his just-published political manifesto ahead of the May 6 mayoral poll, Khan has pledged to ban gambling advertising on the city’s extensive underground network.
While the move may burnish his reputation for progressive policies with the wider electorate, it is hardly news for gambling insiders who have long realised that a draconian ban on gambling advertising will be one dead cert of the ongoing Official Review of the 2005 Gambling Act — irrespective of Khan’s political machinations.
The former MP for Tooting, aged 50, the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver, has been London mayor since 2016. He has previously outlawed junk food adverts on the underground or tube.
“I’ve already banned body-shaming advertisements and advertisements for foods high in fat, salt and sugar on the Transport for London (TfL) network because of their impact on the health of Londoners,” he wrote in his political manifesto.
“[Now] 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,” he pledged.
But TfL accountants won’t be exactly jumping with joy at their boss’s initiative.
It’s estimated that gaming-related publicity generates nearly half of the total outdoor advertising revenue for the British capital.
And in a double dichotomy, TfL is also committed to reinvesting at least £150m per year in ad revenue back into the sprawling travel system.
Meanwhile, in equally unsurprising news, it was reported that Carolyn Harris, MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Harms, has welcomed her Labour Party colleague’s move as “common sense”.