Ontario opens public consultation on ticket touting bots, but Virginia wants a free market

April 2017

Live events sector


Ontario has launched a public consultation on plans to introduce new laws banning the use of ticket tout bots. The Canadian province’s Attorney General Yasir Naqvi had announced the intention to introduce new legislation last October and moves to outlaw the use of such software were reinforced after tickets for Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip’s farewell tour quickly found their way to secondary sites at massive mark-ups, on the news that frontman Gord Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Ontarians with a view on secondary ticketing matters can fill out the consultation survey.
And in advance of the UK’s move to regulate secondary ticketing and ban the use of bots to harvest tickets, the FanFair Alliance welcomed Prime Minister Theresa May’s “heartening” intervention on the secondary ticketing market. May was responding to Conservative MP Nigel Adams, who is leading the bid to make illegal the misuse of bot technology by ticket touts. “Does the Prime Minister agree that, when tickets to a teenage cancer charity gig by Ed Sheeran are being resold on the Viagogo ticket website for more than £1,000, with none of that money going to the charity… it is unfair and not indicative of a market that works for everyone?” asked Adams. “What will the government do to ensure that genuine fans are not fleeced by ticket touts and rogues?”
The PM replied: “[Adams] is absolutely right to identify circumstances where websites are acting in that way and causing those problems for people who genuinely believe that they are able to buy tickets for what they wish to attend” adding “the Consumer Rights Act 2015 introduced new rules on ticketing and a review of online ticket sales. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will shortly respond to the independent report by Professor Michael Waterson on this issue, but as a government we are looking at the general issue of where markets are not working in the interest of consumers.
But whilst lawmakers in various countries look into new ways to regulate all the ticket touting facilitated by the increasingly dominant secondary ticketing platforms, the state legislature of Virginia are moving to fully allow ticket re-sale. The state’s House of Delegates has now passed the Ticket Resale Rights Act, which prohibits concert promoters from denying someone admission to an event because they have bought their ticket from a tout (scalper). The new legislation also seeks to stop the use of ticket controls designed to limit touting, such as locking a ticket to the credit card used to buy it. Under the Ticket Resale Rights Act, concert promoters  in Virginia wouldn’t be allowed to cancel a touted ticket in that way, whatever the terms and conditions of the ticket may say. Doing so could result in a fine of up to US $5,000.
The Executive Director of US lobbying group NetChoice, which counts StubHub owner eBay as a member, Steve DelBianco wrote in a recent article for the Washington Post that: “Virginians deserve to have safe and easy ways to buy, sell and give away their sports and concert tickets. Yet, Ticketmaster is focused on requiring fans to purchase ‘credit card entry’ tickets which require fans to present the credit card used to buy the ticket plus a government-issued identification card for the person who bought the ticket”.






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