888 Removing Ads From London’s Transport Network Following Criticism

  • 888 acknowledged that people could misinterpret the messaging of some of the ads
  • London’s mayor took criticism after pledging to ban these types of ads in 2021
  • The TfL said that all of the 888 ads were compliant with established standards
London Underground sign
888 has decided to remove some of its ads from London’s transport network after taking criticism. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Making changes

Responding to sharp criticism, online gambling operator 888 is removing some of its ads from the transport network in London. People questioned the messages that these marketing materials were spreading since the launch of the campaign a few weeks ago.

found throughout tube stations and trains across the city

An ad displayed on many bus stops read “Your Bus is Now a Casino” and the side of a black cab taxi was covered in images of roulette wheels and a caption saying “Fancy a Spin?” Similar types of ads were also found throughout tube stations and trains across the city.

888 told The Guardian that it welcomes feedback on its campaigns and acknowledges that some of its recent ads “could be interpreted in a different manner to the brand position we aim for,” which is why it will remove certain ads and refocus its campaign.

Questioning the approach

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also received his share of criticism for greenlighting the ads as voters head to the polls in the coming days to elect the next mayor. His previous campaign in 2021 promised to ban all types of gambling ads on the city’s transport network.

questioned 888’s promotion of casino games that have links to higher levels of gambling addiction

Some people questioned 888’s promotion of casino games that have links to higher levels of gambling addiction in comparison to other products like sports betting.

National Problem Gambling Clinic Founder Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones went as far as posting a picture on X (formerly Twitter) of one of the operator’s ads on an underground train carriage. She explained that a child in a school uniform was sitting in a seat below it and asked the mayor to clarify when this type of messaging was going to come to an end:

Possible double standard

Despite the Transport for London (TfL) local government body banning ads that promote unhealthy eating, it has not followed the same approach for other vices like vaping and gambling, according to mayoral candidate Susan Hall. TfL maintains that 888’s ads were fully compliant with the nationwide advertising laws, as well as its own internal regulations.

Gambling companies have reportedly spent almost £1.8m ($2.26m) on marketing campaigns across London’s transport network over the past couple of years.

The mayoral election will take place on Thursday and Sadiq Khan remains the heavy favourite to secure a third consecutive term.

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