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It looks as if for-profit ticket touting will finally be banned in the Republic of Ireland, as Viagogo is fined $7m in Australia for misleading consumers
By IQ on 06 Oct 2020
The Republic of Ireland’s long and convoluted journey towards outlawing above-face-value ticket resale looks finally to be near an end, after the Irish government gave its backing to a new bill brought by the deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar.
The Sale of Tickets (Cultural, Entertainment, Recreational and Sporting Events) Bill 2020, sponsored by former PM Varadkar (now the tánaiste and minister for enterprise), criminalises the resale of most tickets to live events, including concerts, and sports matches for profit.
Those found guilty of reselling tickets for a price above their original face value face a fine up to €100,000, or up to two years’ imprisonment.
The provisions of the bill apply to all events held at “designated venues” with a capacity exceeding 1,000 (excluding amateur sports clubs and registered charities). Venues may apply for designation to Varadkar and his successors, and the minister may also designate venues under 1,000 capacity if they are “of the opinion 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.”
“This is about making sure people aren’t getting ripped off once live events get up and running again”
The new bill began life as a private members’ bill brought by MPs Noel Rock and Stephen Donnelly in 2017, which won the backing of the previous Irish government in 2018.
In a series of tweets, Rock says although it “took a lot of pushing” to get the bill to where it is now, he is “proud to have made a difference”:
Glad we’ve got to this point and, though I’m no longer there, proud to have made a difference pic.twitter.com/xgs2dEBQXr
— Noel Rock (@NoelRock) September 29, 2020
The Sale of Tickets bill has been designated a priority piece of legislation for the current term of the Dáil Éireann (the Republic’s lower house of parliament), and is expected to be passed this year.
“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,” comments Varadkar. “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.”
“Viagogo’s business practices were unacceptable”
“This legislation is also hopeful,” he adds. “We’re planning for the time when we can go to gigs, festivals and matches again.”
In other secondary ticketing news, Viagogo, the controversial Swiss-headquartered ticket resale giant, has been fined A$7 million in Australia after being found guilty of masquerading as an ‘official’ ticket seller, as well as making false claims about ticket prices and scarcity.
“Viagogo’s business practices were unacceptable,” says Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Rod Sims. “Viagogo misled thousands of consumers into buying tickets at inflated prices when they created a false sense of urgency by suggesting tickets were scarce and when they advertised tickets at a lower price by not including unavoidable fees.”
The fine comes as Eric Baker, Viagogo’s founder and CEO – who oversaw the acquisition of rival StubHub for over US$4 billion, which is now facing regulatory scrutiny in the UK – treats himself to a new $39m house in Beverley Hills, Los Angeles.
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