The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D. and Minister of State Patrick O’ Donovan, T.D. today launched a public consultation on the resale of tickets for entertainment and sporting events.
The consultation is being undertaken in response to public concern at the resale of tickets for major entertainment and sporting events at a price often well in excess of their face value. It seeks the inputs and views of interested parties – consumers, performers and their representatives, promoters, sporting bodies, primary ticketing services providers, secondary ticket marketplaces and others – on possible measures aimed at securing fairer access to tickets for consumers.
The consultation paper looks in detail at a number of relevant aspects of ticket resale, including –
· the workings of the primary and secondary ticket markets for entertainment and sporting events,
· how tickets sold or allocated through the primary ticket market end up for resale on the secondary ticket market and who puts them for resale,
· the legislation regulating ticket resale in Ireland, other EU member states, the US and other countries, and
· what different stakeholders do, or do not do, to address the issues and concerns raised by ticket resale.
The paper further sets out, and seeks views, on a number of possible measures that might be taken by the parties involved in the organisation of entertainment and sporting events and in the primary and secondary ticket markets, and by Government, to ensure that fans who wish to attend major entertainment or sporting events do not have to pay exorbitant prices to do so.
Commenting on the launch of the consultation, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said; “We share the public concern at the resale of tickets for major events at inflated prices as seen most recently with tickets for the concert by U2 in July. While the resale of tickets for events characterised by high demand and limited supply is not new, the forms it takes have been transformed by the growth of online selling, including through secondary ticket marketplaces linked to primary ticket sellers. Though ticket resale has been the subject of considerable comment, there is a lack of reliable information about important aspects of the practice, including its incidence, the sources of tickets put up for resale, and the prices achieved, as opposed to advertised, on the secondary ticket market.”
Minister Ross said: “We have huge sympathy for the frustration experienced by genuine fans who feel they are being short changed by the resale of tickets, often at exorbitant prices, to popular events. While we most certainly need to consider legislation that will regulate ticket resale, we also need to be sure that any such legislation will be effective and targeted and will not give rise to unwelcome unintended consequences such as driving ticket resale underground or diverting it to other countries.”
Minister O’Donovan added: “Given that we are hosting some of the UEFA 2020 games and hope to win the bid for hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup, it is vital we examine the issue of ticket touting at this time. Ultimately we want to ensure that sport and music fans get fair access to tickets, without any unintended consequences which may impact on the events or the economy. So I’d encourage all those interested to make submissions by the closing date of 31st March”
Tickets sold by venues, promoters and sporting bodies or by ticketing service providers authorised by them constitute primary ticket sales and the arrangements by which such tickets are sold constitute the primary ticket market. On the secondary ticket market, tickets previously sold or allocated through the primary ticket market are sold or offered for sale.
Ticket resale is now increasingly conducted on specialist ticket marketplaces which do not sell tickets or set their prices but facilitate sales between sellers and buyers for which they receive a fee from one or both parties to the sale. The main secondary marketplaces operating in Ireland are Seatwave which was acquired by Ticketmaster in 2014, StubHub which was acquired by eBay in 2007, and viagogo, a European based platform founded in 2006 by a former co-founder of StubHub. Tickets for entertainment and sporting events are also commonly offered for secondary sale on general online platforms or advertising websites such as DoneDeal, Gumtree (owned by eBay) and eBay itself as well as on social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.
Though ticket sale and resale are subject to general consumer protection legislation, there is no statutory prohibition of ticket resale in Ireland or regulation of the mark-up over the face value of tickets offered for sale on the secondary market. Ticket resale is also permitted in the UK and most European Union member states. Though a number of US states enacted legislation on ticket touting or ‘scalping’ as far back as the 1920s, the trend, until recently at least, has been for these restrictions to be repealed or curtailed. In December 2016, however, provisions aimed at combating the use of ticket purchasing software were enacted by the US Congress.