Ticket scalpers beware: the federal government is considering an outright ban on bots or a crackdown on reselling tickets for “major events.”
After years of persuasion from the live industry and consumer advocacy groups, Canberra is exploring a shake-up of the secondary ticket market. Late in 2017, the Treasury invited submissions to a consultation paper, which drilled deep into scalping and the secondary space at both a state and national level.
The document runs across 62 pages and proposes five policy points, ranging from keeping the status quo (with some consumer education tacked on), through to a national ban on the use of ticket-buying bot software.
“There may be scope for the government to take action to improve the operation and efficiency of the secondary market to ensure that consumer can make more informed purchasing decisions as well as having fairer access to tickets,” reads the document, entitled Ticket Reselling In Australia.
The Treasury admits there’s no real sense of the scale of Australia’s secondary ticketing problem. No clear data exists on how many tickets are scalped each year. But there is, unequivocally, a problem. For its consultation paper, public servants went searching on Google for tickets to Ed Sheeran’s upcoming blockbuster tour. What they found was what we already knew: purchasing secondary tickets is a risky business and secondary ticketing sites look and feel like the real deal.
Across the country, the major ticket selling platforms used by scalpers were found to include Viagogo, TicketmasterResale, eBay and Gumtree.
Canberra’s plans to reform the secondary space follow a raft of campaigns from the likes of Live Performance Australia and the consumer rights watchdog Choice. LPA takes a hard-line on dodgy ticketing activities. The peak body last year blasted the Turnbull Government for dragging its feet and called for national legislation to criminalise bots. A breakthrough came last year when the NSW Government banned the use of bots in the state, and in August, the ACCC launched proceedings in the Federal Court against Viagogo alleging it breached the Australian Consumer Law by reselling tickets.
The Treasury urged artists, promoters and live industry professionals and ticket buyers to let their voices be heard by mid-December, with the results of those submissions helping guide federal policy.
TIO can confirm Choice and LPA provided submissions by the deadline. Choice head of media and spokesperson Tom Godfrey tells TIO, “we supported the federal government’s proposal for better disclosure measures. This includes resellers having to list the seat and section number of a ticket or any restrictions on the ticket, as the most efficient way to make ticket resale fair for fans.”
He adds, “If you are buying a resold ticket you have a right to know the face value of the ticket and where in a stadium you might be sitting.” LPA’s submission can be found here.
Treasury will review feedback it received from submissions and prepare a Decision Regulatory Impact Assessment, essentially an expanded version of the consultation paper released last year.
The next stage of the process will see ministers (the Legislative and Government Forum on Consumer Affairs) formally considering the issue in the first half of 2018.