Australian law makers look to ban bots, whilst in the UK, Viagogo are a no show

April 2017

Live events sector



Lawmakers in Australia are also considering a nationwide ban on the software used by ticket touts to buy up large quantities of tickets for in-demand events from primary ticketing sites, using so called ‘bots’. In 2016 President Obama signed banning the use of ticket tout bots, while the UK government has now said it supports inserting a similar specific bots ban into Digital Economy Bill.

In Australia, where touting (scalping) has traditionally been legislated for on a state by state basis, the Federal Senate has approved a motion introduced by independent senator Nick Xenophon calling on the country’s government to also ban bots. He is quoted by MusicFeeds as saying: “Genuine Australian fans are being unfairly deprived of tickets because ticket scalpers are using automated systems to buy a bulk of tickets when they are released. They’re then on-selling them for massive amounts to those that missed out. It’s a clear cornering of a market that hurts consumers”.

In early March, Australian consumer watch organisation Choice revealed ticket sellers were inflating prices by up to 500 percent. It also dismissed current consumer laws as inconsistent and ineffective.

Xenophon’s motion was not backed by the Australian government, but passed the Senate. The senator is now reportedly drafting possible legislation that will be similar to America’s Better Online Ticket Sales Act.

In the UK, Viagogo failed to appear before a Parliamentary Select Committee hearing on ticket abuse. The Switzerland-headquartered secondary ticketing firm had been called to give evidence at the hearing in the House Of Commons. 

The UK government had said it will act on the recommendations in the independent report on secondary ticketing by Professor Michael Waterson.

Committee chairman Damian Collins said: “It is of considerable disappointment to us that Viagogo have decided not to send a representative,”. “Despite the fact that they have a substantial office in London they do not believe that they have adequate representation in the UK in order to assist the committee with its enquiries”  adding “Given that other companies that operate in the primary and secondary ticketing space like Live Nation [whose Ticketmaster subsidiary runs resale sites Seatwave and Get Me In] and [StubHub owner] eBay have given evidence to the committee, it is of considerable disappointment to us that Viagogo don’t feel that they have any oral evidence that they can contribute.”

Committee member Jon Nicolson MP added: “It’s always a very sad sight – and we see this very rarely – that we have to empty chair somebody, because most public organisations, most private organisations, have enough respect for parliament that when they’re asked to appear they turn up and they put their arguments. It says something about their lack of self respect and the shady nature of their operations that they feel they can’t appear here and answer questions.”

Others who did attend included See Tickets’s CEO Rob Wilmshurst, Ed Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp, Stuart Galbraith from promoters Kilimanjaro Live, Daily Record journalist Mark McGivern and Claire Turnham of the Victims Of Viagogo group. 

In December, the Competition And Markets Authority (CMA) launched an enforcement investigation into the four main secondary ticketing platforms – Viagogo, eBay-owned StubHub and Ticketmaster’s Seatwave and Get Me In. HM Revenue & Customs will look into potential under-reporting of income in the secondary ticketing sector.

A useful update on developments in the United Kingdom (Ticket sales on the secondary market) can be found here

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