Why EBay Thinks Anti-Ticket Scalping Laws Are A Bad Idea For Australia

EBay Australia has opposed an Australian Government proposal to crack down on ticket scalping, arguing that a “secondary ticket market” is needed to keep ticketing incumbents Ticketek and Ticketmaster in check.

The Senate has been looking into the prevalence, risk and legality of ticket scalping since December, attracting a total of 17 public submissions from auction sites, event venues, ticketing companies and fans.

Most of the individuals who responded to the inquiry called for more laws to prevent ticket scalping, after missing out on tickets to Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones and a Melbourne Victory football match.

But eBay, ticket exchange Viagogo, Treasury and industry group Live Performance Australia opposed new anti-ticket scalping laws, with the latter warning that they would be “unwarranted, ineffective and unenforceable”.

Here’s what eBay said:

The parties with the most to potentially to gain from regulation of the secondary ticket market is the primary market. The primary market often control tickets, prices and supply. Any regulation of resales will assist them to do this but may not be in consumers’ interests.

Problematic primary distribution practices include:

  • Underpricing: tickets made available at a price deliberately below market value to achieve a sell out event and secure artist commitment to touring.
  • Spreading risk: it has been alleged that scalpers may be welcomed by some promoters because they are effectively a form of insurance (by self-assuming the risk of not selling tickets).
  • Pre-sales and Sponsorship allocations: tickets made available for priority purchase through presales are often based on arrangements with third party partners that fail to give real priority access to genuine fans.
  • Corporate and Hospitality Package Allocations: Promoters regularly hold back significant volumes of tickets for corporate interests, sponsors and hospitality packages, resulting in a significant reduction in tickets that the general public can access in the first place.
  • Failing to identify purchasers and effectively limiting the number of tickets per purchase: Failing to pre-qualify/identify purchasers and/or impose limits on the number of tickets that any individual can purchase in the primary tickets market causes concern. Some promoters also impose caps but fail to set-up systems to enforce the measures effectively.
  • Poor timing of ticket sales: It is common practice that all publicly available tickets are dumped onto the market simultaneously, usually at 9am AEST on a Monday morning, causing phone lines and Internet sites to collapse under the pressure. Early sales of tickets to events – in particular, major finals (in some cases before the teams are even known) so far in advance of the event – also generate unwanted tickets.

EBay argued that a majority of the ticket sales it facilitated were from consumers who had genuinely intended to attend an event but could no longer do so, and that high-profile, outrageously priced listings that often made it into the media often did not result in a sale.

In a separate submission, Viagogo agreed: “Proponents of legislation contend that the secondary market drives up ticket prices … [however] tickets listed for unusually high prices on ticket marketplace platforms very rarely sell.”

Ticketmaster also submitted that ticket scalping did not impact ticket prices and sales and that consumers demanded ticket resale opportunities in Australia. Ticketmaster is launching its own resale marketplace in the coming months.

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