The lucrative ticket reselling market, which some critics have labelled “legalised scalping”, is set to take a massive financial hit after the New South Wales government announced plans to cap the price of resold tickets at 10%.
Hardest hit by the new rules will be Ticketmaster, the Australian subsidiary of US-listed Live Nation Entertainment, as well as Swiss-based reseller Viagogo, which is currently facing legal action from the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission, which alleges it engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct as it price-gouged consumers.
Viagogo and Ticketmaster Resale have earned the ire of consumer advocacy groups such as Choice, as well as government ministers for their practices, with Ticketmaster Resale offering tickets for resale at inflated prices immediately after they’ve initially gone on sale.
Ticketmaster enraged Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett after tickets to the band’s reunion concerts sold out and immediately ended up on the Resale site, where the company takes 21% of the sale price.
The band alleged the “vast majority” of tickets to its Sydney and Melbourne concerts were bought by scalpers, who the tried to resell them online.
Viagogo has been accused of scamming consumers by pretending to sell tickets to events before they’ve officially gone on sale, selling fake tickets and charging massively inflated prices, and is one of the most complained about companies in Australia.
As well as a cap on the resale price NSW Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said the state would make the use of “bots” – security manipulation software that allows ticket scalpers to circumvent systems and buy high quantities of tickets — illegal for the first time in Australia.
Event organisers will also be required to publicly disclose the number of tickets available for sale to major NSW events, while organisers and venues will not be able to cancel tickets simply because they’ve been resold.
“I’m sick and tired of consumers being taken for a ride by shonky operators looking to make a quick buck at the expense of ordinary fans,” Kean said.
“No ticket to a NSW sporting or entertainment event should be resold for more than 10% above its original price.”
He also wants a crackdown on advertising, or hosting ads for tickets that breach the new resale laws in a move targeting Viagogo, which often ends up at the top of Google searches for tickets.
“The reforms also aim make it clear that tickets resold within the new laws should not be cancelled by event organisers or venues simply because the ticket has been acquired in the secondary market,” Kean said.
The changes have been lauded by the country’s major sporting organisations, including Cricket Australia, the NRL, AFL, ARU and FFA.
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said the changes will give his organisation an improved ability to act on scalping.
“For events such as the Ashes, we know that tickets are in high demand and these reforms send a very clear message to those who try to take advantage of the system and scalp tickets at inflated prices, that we will identify and cancel tickets in accordance with our terms and conditions,” he said.
“Our message to all fans is to not support this practice of buying from scalpers. We want genuine fans to be able to enjoy our events and only pay the price advertised.”
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