The Irish government has approved the drafting of anti-ticket touting legislation that would see penalties of up to €100,000 (£91,000/$117,000) and prison terms of two years for people reselling tickets above face value.

The drafting of the Sale of Tickets (Cultural, Entertainment, Recreational and Sporting Events) Bill 2020 has been brought forward by Leo Varadkar, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and former Taoiseach.

Varadkar presented the legislation amid concern that reduced capacity at gigs, matches and events due to COVID-19 could lead to a surge in secondary ticket sales.

The bill will ban the resale of tickets to live events, matches and concerts in designated venues with a capacity of 1,000 or more, at inflated prices, though there is an exemption for amateur sports clubs and registered charities for fundraising purposes.

The Minister may designate a venue with a capacity of less than 1,000 if, after consultation with the venue operator, it is confirmed that the venue will hold one or more events which may give rise to the sale of tickets for a price exceeding the original sale price and that the designation of the venue would be in the public interest.

Primary ticket sellers will be required to provide information that a ticket or ticket package is for an event in a designated venue and that its sale for a price exceeding the original sale price is prohibited unless it comes within the act’s exemption for charitable organisations and amateur sports clubs.

Secondary ticket sellers selling or advertising tickets for events in designated venues will be required to provide information on the original sale price of the ticket or ticket package and the location of the seat or standing area to which the ticket or ticket package entitles the holder to gain admission. The operators of secondary ticket marketplaces will be required to ensure that this information is provided by secondary ticket sellers.

Varadkar said: “Touts and reselling websites ruin gigs and matches for everyone making it harder to get a ticket in the first place and driving up prices. This is about making sure people aren’t getting ripped off once live events, matches and concerts get up and running again, especially considering numbers are likely to be restricted to begin with.

“There is a specific provision in the Bill for the Euro 2020 championships next year, banning the unauthorised sale of tickets for matches. We want to make sure everyone gets a fair shot at getting tickets at face value.

“This legislation is also hopeful. We’re planning for the time when we can go to gigs, festivals and matches again.”

The bill has now been listed as a priority for the current Dail term, meaning it is expected to be published before the end of the year.

In 2017, an attempt to ban resale at above face value pricing was brought forward by Deputy Noel Rock and Deputy Stephen Donnelly and supported by the previous Government, provided for a ban on the above-cost resale of event tickets. It was supported by all parties during its Second Reading in Dáil Éireann in January and February 2019.

The legislation was criticised by Viagogo, which claimed that anti-touting legislation was unconstitutional. Ireland’s Minister for Business and Enterprise, Heather Humphreys rejected the claims.

The bill was submitted to the European Commission for assessment of their compatibility with EU law in February 2020. The Commission found no issue of incompatibility.