During his re-election campaign in May this year, Khan, the son of an immigrant Pakistani bus driver, pledged to ban betting ads across the London transport system because of “the devastating way gambling addiction can destroy lives and families”.
The Transport For London (TfL) estate–comprising the Underground, Overground, Tramlink and the Docklands Light Railway—registered an average of 1.5 billion annual journeys before the advent of Covid-19.
The Mayor of London has controlling authority over the estate; although the system is also heavily dependent on central government subsidies on top of income generated from ticket sales.
Between April and June this year TfL reportedly ran 49 gambling advertising campaigns across its network.
Transport officials have declined to reveal how much income was generated by the betting ads.
“It will be difficult to assess the financial impact of a gambling advert ban as there are many factors that affect advertising revenue year on year,” said a TfL spokesperson.
But some indication of probable income loss can be gleaned from Khan’s 2019 TfL ban on junk food adverts, which it’s estimated lost the transport authority between £13 million (US$18m/€15.2m) and £25 million (US$34.6/€29.3m) in annual revenue.
This latest drive to ban gambling ads was super-charged by a recent London Assembly meeting when Sian Berry, of the Green Party, asked Khan when he was going to deliver on his campaign promise.
The Mayor, of the Labour Party, said that he had already asked TfL to “bring forward” its plans to ban gambling adverts.
“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,” said Khan in a statement.
Undoubtedly Khan’s betting ad ban, forgive the pun, is in the can.
Now, the mayor only needs to confirm the date.