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Government Acts: Touts Out

Secondary ticketing is a topic of interest for almost all parties in the live industry these days, with even major promoters whose companies facilitate it by operating secondary platforms positioning themselves as part of the solution.

The important news this week is that the UK Government finally got off the fence and took action against the fences, announcing that touts who use bots to bulk buy tickets for music and sporting events will face unlimited fines. In an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill, ticket touts will be banned from using bots. The amendment will give the government the power to create a new criminal offence of using bots to bypass limits on maximum ticket purchases set by event organisers.

More significantly, it was also announced that Ministers accepted all of the recommendations made in the Waterson report- published in May 2016 and thankfully not kicked into the long grass since the issue gained serious traction in the political community. This was largely due to the efforts of campaigning group the FanFair Alliance and the support of MPs Sharon Hodgson and Nigel Adams.

The issue is not entirely about bots- Waterson made nine key recommendations in the 226-page report that were aimed at protecting and educating the consumer in relation to both the secondary and primary ticketing markets. The report called for industrial-scale ticket traders to be clearly identified on the sites and for greater transparency within the primary market.

A FanFair Alliance spokesman said that the developments were “A vindication for campaigners and performers, who have called for reform of this shadowy market for well over a decade”.

The statement continued: “For too long now, the practices of the secondary ticketing platforms have enabled online touts to thrive and generate huge profits at the expense of fans. Ticket resale in the UK is worth an estimated £1 billion per annum”.

Transparency and enforcement are the keywords here- the Government has acted and now must ensure enforcement of existing consumer rights laws.

On that note, the Government is also to provide investment to support National Trading Standards in its work alongside the Competition And Markets Authority on an enforcement investigation into suspected breaches of consumer protection law in the online secondary market.

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