Industry News

Ontario expands its ticket scalping legislation

The Canadian province of Ontario has announced plans for legislation that will clamp down on online ticket scalping into a wider consumer-protection bill.

The Liberal government said that automated ticket-buying ‘bots’ would be made illegal, while also placing a cap on resold tickets at 50 per cent above their face value.

The proposed law would impose stricter guidelines for ticket resellers, in which they would be required to provide more information, including the face value of tickets and any surcharges.

In addition, Consumer Protection Ontario would be empowered to handle ticketing complaints and to investigate various parties in the ticket-selling process, such as vendors and venues, and hand out penalties.

Administrative fines would range as high as C$10,000 ($7,970/€6,800/£6,000) per infraction, with the potential of penalties as high as $50,000, or jail time for individuals, and up to $250,000 for corporations if there is a conviction.

“We remain concerned that capping resale prices will only serve to drive fans to dangerous online retailers,” said Erin Benjamin, executive director of concert-industry association Music Canada Live. The 2016 Tragically Hip tour that provoked this legislation saw four million people try to buy about 200,000 tickets, she said. “Capping resale prices won’t prohibit [scalping] activity.”

While many of the consumer-protection details were announced with the Ticket Sales Act’s framework in June, the move to wrap it into broader consumer-focused legislation shows that enforcing its ticket laws is a top priority, consumer services minister Tracy MacCharles said on Thursday, according to the Globe and Mail news website.

Ticketmaster and StubHub, which represent 80 per cent of Ontario’s ticketing market, are being asked to take much of the responsibility of policing sellers that use bots.

Attorney-General Yasir Naqvi said in an interview: “We’ve put the onus on them (Ticketmaster/StubHub), because we know we … can exercise jurisdiction over those companies.”

The legislation also proposes to protect other “big purchases” for consumers that involve real estate regulation and the travel-service business.