April 29, 2024 3 min read

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Controversy Erupts as 888.com Pulls London Ads Amid Backlash

The criticism from various stakeholders, including Susan Hall, a Conservative candidate competing against the current Mayor Sadiq Khan, prompted the decision to withdraw the advertisements

888.com, an online casino company, has announced its decision to pull back advertisements from various locations across London, including the city’s transport network. This move comes in the wake of mounting criticism regarding the tone of their adverts, which has sparked a debate over the approval process for such promotions.

TfL Under Fire as 888.com Withdraws Ads

The decision to withdraw the ads follows concerns raised by various stakeholders, including Susan Hall, a Conservative candidate running against incumbent Mayor Sadiq Khan, reported The Guardian. Hall, along with a prominent clinician and a group of peers, questioned the acceptance of the campaign by Transport for London (TfL), labeling the decision as “baffling.”

Despite Khan’s previous commitment to banning gambling advertisements on London’s transport network, TfL had continued to accept promotions for bookmakers and online casinos pending an independent review. However, the recent campaign by 888.com, featuring slogans such as “This carriage is now a casino” on the London Underground and buses, drew significant backlash.

In response to questions from the media, 888.com acknowledged that they would withdraw certain advertisements due to worries that the content might not align with the brand’s intended message. This move is seen as a response to criticism over the promotion of online casino games, which are associated with higher rates of harm according to NHS survey data.

Critics Slam Khan’s Advertising Stance as TfL Faces Scrutiny

Critics, including Hall, have accused Khan of inconsistency in his approach to advertising regulations, highlighting the banning of ads featuring cheese or strawberries and cream while permitting promotions for vaping and gambling. Prof Henrietta Bowden-Jones, overseeing the National Problem Gambling Clinic, also criticized Khan after encountering one of the ads on the tube.

In a letter addressed to TfL’s commissioner, Andrew Lord, the House of Lords group Peers for Gambling Reform condemned the “aggressive” nature of the ads, which they deemed contradictory to Khan’s manifesto pledge. They called for a more consistent approach in regulating advertisements across different sectors.

TfL’s review of its policy on gambling ads has attracted scrutiny, especially considering the hefty fines previously imposed on 888.com for regulatory breaches. While TfL accepted 888’s ads, it has historically banned images promoting food high in fat, sugar, or salt, raising questions about the consistency of its advertising policies.

As the debate over gambling advertising intensifies, calls for stricter regulations resonate not only in London but across the UK, with more than 80 councils taking action to restrict such promotions. With the mayoral election looming, the issue of advertising regulation is likely to remain a point of contention for candidates and policymakers alike.

Author

Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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