Crackdown on ticket reselling websites threatens substantial fines
Image credit: Dreamstime
With live events opening up again as pandemic restrictions ease, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has proposed tough restrictions on ticket reselling sites such as Viagogo and Stubhub.
The CMA has made a series of recommendations intended to make it easier to act effectively against touts. This includes a total ban on platforms that take part in “speculative selling”, which sees resellers offering tickets for an event they do not have tickets for, and rules to ensure the platforms are fully responsible for incorrect information about tickets that are listed for sale on their websites.
The CMA also wants to introduce a new system of licensing for secondary ticket platforms that would allow “substantial fines” to be imposed on those that flout the rules, as well as other sanctions such as forced take-down of their websites or withdrawing their right to operate.
Currently, bulk buying of tickets by professional resellers ahead of real fans is illegal, but authorities are limited under the current laws to take swift action against them.
The CMA took action against Viagogo and StubHub in the past to force them to remove misleading messaging about ticket availability and to tell customers that the tickets they buy might lead to them being turned away at the door.
George Lusty, consumer protection director at the CMA, said: “Over recent years we have taken strong action to protect people buying tickets from resellers online and the secondary ticket websites are now worlds apart from those we saw before the CMA took action.
“While it is clear that concerns about the sector remain, there are limits to what the CMA and other enforcers can do with their current powers. With live music and sporting events starting back up, we want the government to take action to strengthen the current laws and introduce a licensing regime for secondary ticketing platforms.
“If adopted, these proposals will help prevent people getting ripped off by unscrupulous resellers online and we stand ready to help the government to implement them.”
Based on data provided from all the main reselling platform operators in the UK, the CMA’s investigation into the acquisition of Stubhub by Viagogo in early 2020 estimated the value of the tickets sold in 2019 through secondary ticketing websites was approximately £350m.
The release of new games consoles from Microsoft and Sony in November 2020 also prompted a wave of scalping activity, as supply constraints meant that not enough consoles could be produced to fulfil demand.
To prevent the practice, a bill named the Gaming Hardware (Automated Purchase and Resale) Bill 2019-21 was introduced to the House of Commons by Scottish National Party MP Douglas Chapman in February, but it failed to complete its passage through Parliament.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.