Melbourne International Comedy Festival has been given major event status, giving the event an increased protection against scalping.

Under Victorian law, sporting competitions and festivals labelled “major events” are assumed greater ticket tout protections. Those that resell major event tickets by more than 10 per cent of the face value could be fined between A$800 (£444/€504/$569) and A$480,000.

The new status, which was actually granted late last year, puts the world’s third-largest comedy festival in the same category as the AFL grand final and Australian Open tennis tournament. The announcement of the “major event” title was made public today (Friday) in a move designed to capitalise on the upcoming sales round.

According to the Brisbane Times newspaper, Victoria’s tourism minister Martin Pakula said it was only fair for comedy fans to secure the same legal protections as people attending the big sporting events. However, he denied the state was behind New South Wales, which imposed a 10 per cent resale cap since 2018.

He said: “There’s been no delay. This legislation was passed around 18 months ago. We make designations event by event and this designation was made back in October of 2018 within days of the request coming in from the comedy festival.

“Victoria Police and authorised officers will have a full suite of powers to deal with those who might be ticket scalping. This is the largest ticketed event in Victoria. We have to give the comedy festival every tool we can.”

Melbourne Comedy festival, which attracts more than 800,000 visitors every year, last year began warning fans to stay clear of sites such as Viagogo.

Pakula continued: “We want people to be able to enjoy Melbourne’s range of sporting and major events. We don’t want people to be ripped off. There’s always going to be some people who try to find a loophole or try to make a quick buck.”

Image: Arthur Jau