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UK’s CMA calls for stronger controls on resale sites

In a new report, the Competition and Markets Authority urges government to introduce a licensing regime for secondary ticketing sites

By IQ on 16 Aug 2021

George Lusty, Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)

image © Crown copyright

As live events return in the UK, the British competition regulator has proposed stronger rules to deal with illegal activity on non-price-capped secondary ticketing sites such as Viagogo and StubHub.

While laws exist to prevent the bulk-buying of tickets to resell at a profit, the speculative resale of tickets which the seller doesn’t yet own and the advertising of tickets using incorrect information, “swift and effective action by authorities is not possible under the current law”, says the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which has outlined its recommendations in a new report, released this morning (16 August).

Among the measures the CMA is calling for are:

  • A ban on platforms allowing resellers to sell more tickets for an event than they can legally buy from the primary market
  • Ensuring platforms are fully responsible for incorrect information about tickets that are listed for sale on their websites
  • 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 the imposition of substantial fines

George Lusty, the CMA’s senior director for consumer protection, comments: “Over 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.

“If adopted, these proposals will help prevent people getting ripped off by unscrupulous resellers online”

“While it is clear that concerns about the sector remain, there are limits to what the CMA and other enforcers 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.

“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.”

Adam Webb, campaign manager for anti-ticket touting group FanFair Alliance, comments: “With the steady return of live music events, this is a welcome and timely report from the Competition and Markets Authority. These proposed changes to regulating the so-called secondary ticketing market could have far-reaching future benefits for music fans. We now need to fully digest the implications and viability of introducing their suggested measures.

“However, it’s equally important that we’re not distracted from the here and now. Over the course of the pandemic, FanFair Alliance has continued to send substantial evidence to the CMA detailing a range of serious and current allegations about Viagogo in particular – from systematic breaches of consumer protection law to mass-scale fraud. This has gone on for far too long.

“The CMA still has a court order hanging over this company. Given Viagogo’s wretched history of compliance and ongoing complications around their $4bn merger with StubHub, it is now even more imperative that these allegations are investigated comprehensively and, if required, decisive enforcement action taken.”

Earlier this year the CMA ordered StubHub to sell its business outside North America in order for the authority to approve its acquisition by Viagogo. The companies have indicated they will comply, with plans for StubHub outside North America to be sold to a new owner.


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