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UK competition watchdog proposes new regulations to stop people being “ripped off”

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has called for changes to the law and existing regulations surrounding ticket resale platforms, with “substantial fines” if companies fail to comply. 

As live events including music festivals, gigs and sports matches have restarted following the Covid-19 shutdown, there has been a call for dramatic changes to be made to ticketing rules.

Proposals from the CMA include a new system of licensing for platforms that sell secondary tickets that would enable an authority to “act quickly and issue sanctions” such as taking down websites, withdrawing a business’s right to operate in the sector and imposing substantial fines.

Introducing these new rules will “help prevent people getting ripped off by unscrupulous resellers online”, the CMA said.

The regulator has also made recommendations focused on making sure platforms are responsible for incorrect information about the tickets for sale on their websites and a ban on platforms allowing resellers to sell more tickets for an event than they can legally buy from the primary market. 

George Lusty, senior director for Consumer Protection at the CMA, said: “Over the recent years we have taken strong action to protect people buying tickets from resellers online, and the secondary ticket websites are now worlds apart from those we saw before the CMA took action. 

“While it is clear that concerns about the sector remain, there are limits to what the CMA and other enforces can do with their current powers. With live music and sporting events starting back up we want the Government to take action to strengthen the current laws and introduce a licensing regime for secondary ticketing platforms.”

These changes follow a series of interventions from the CMA, which has also probed Viagogo’s acquisition of StubHub. It proposed progressing the deal, back in March 2021, if the company agreed to sell off StubHub’s businesses outside of North America.

New South Wales Fair Trading also launched an investigation after a number of Australians also complained about Viagogo concerning scalping and refunds. Most recently, Germany’s public prosecutor office launched in investigation into Viagogo for suspected tax evasion

Lusty continued: “If adopted, these proposals will help prevent people getting ripped off by unscrupulous resellers online and we stand ready to help the Government to implement them.” 

Image: Jana Kunz on Unsplash