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Senator: Reverse tout ban to save Irish jobs

A member of Ireland’s upper house has urged the Republic’s business minister, Heather Humphreys, to abandon plans for a ban on the resale of tickets above face value, saying it would put hundreds of jobs at risk.

Maria Byrne, a Fine Gael senator from Limerick, has called on Humphrey’s to rethink the government’s support for the bill, which she says could force controversial resale site Viagogo – a major employer in Limerick – out of the county.

Byrne (pictured) tells the Irish Independent she could oppose the passage of the Prohibition of Above-Cost Ticket Touting Bill when it comes before the Senate.

“Viagogo, whose European HQ is based in [Limerick suburb] Castletroy, is an online ticket marketplace for ticket resale and is a massive employer in Limerick, with 150 employees currently on its books [and] plans to grow its staff to around 250,” she comments.

“Viagogo is a massive employer in Limerick”

“I was alarmed to learn that ticket resale sites like the Ticketmaster company Seatwave closed down in Belgium when it introduced similar legislation.”

Noel Rock, the MP who introduced the bill in January 2017, says the legislation is in the national interest.

“The reality is that the majority of the public do not want to see politicians cave into lobbyists’ demands on this one, and would prefer to see matchgoers and concertgoers properly protected, rather than propping up the companies that facilitate this gouging of punters.

“The cabinet have accepted this, and we hope to be in a position to legislate in the months ahead.”

 


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Ireland set to ban above-face value ticket touting

As predicted in February, the Irish government has given its backing to the Prohibition of Above-Cost Ticket Touting Bill, paving the way for a ban on the resale of tickets for over face value in the Republic of Ireland.

The bill – in full An act to render it unlawful for any person to sell or offer for sale tickets for major sporting, musical or theatrical events for a price in excess of the officially designated price – was introduced by Irish MPs Noel Rock and Stephen Donnelly in January 2017, leading to a public consultation on secondary ticketing.

The consultation, which wrapped up last May, garnered responses from promoter Aiken Promotions; consumer groups ECC Ireland and the Consumers’ Association of Ireland; sports governing bodies GAA, FAI and IRFU; primary ticket agencies Ticketmaster Ireland and Tickets.ie; and several secondary sites, including StubHub, Seatwave and Viagogo.

Both the primary and secondary ticket agencies that responded were opposed to further regulation, with Ticketmaster saying the bill would “simply push the market underground or offshore”.

Despite the ticketing companies’ misgivings, Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s minister for business, enterprise and regulation, has announced the government’s support for the bill, which would outlaw the above-face value resale of sports and entertainment tickets in certain designated venues with a capacity of 1,000 or over, as well as banning the use of ticket bots.

“It’s wrong that people who make no contribution to sport or music can profit from the resale of tickets”

Humphreys (pictured) expects “most venues with a capacity of 1,000 or over” to apply for designation, “given the broad support for measures to counter ticket profiteering from sporting bodies, promoters and artists”, although her department will have reserve power to designate venues “where this would be in the interest of consumers”.

The ban will not apply to tickets sold by charities and sports bodies/teams for fundraising purposes.

“It’s wrong that people who make no contribution to sport or music [touts] can profit from the resale of tickets for sell-out matches and shows,” comments Humphreys. “In doing so, they deprive genuine fans of the opportunity to attend these events, and the time has come to put a stop to it.

“I am confident that this bill will have the support of the main sporting bodies, of many artists and promoters in the entertainment industry and of music and sports fans right across the country. ”

Adds Donnelly: “For too long, genuine music and sports fans have been ripped off by organised ticket touting. While there has always been some low-level touting, the move to online sales and bots has brought ticket touting to an industrial scale. Recent assertions to a Westminster committee link some of this to organised crime, based partly in Ireland.

“It’s now my ambition that we see other nations across Europe replicating this bill”

“Time and time again, fans are being told that all tickets are sold out on the primary sales website, while almost immediately being able to buy those same tickets at much higher prices on other websites. Fans suffer, as do artists and sporting bodies.

“This legislation is a strong move to protect fans, artists and sporting bodies, and I very much look forward to getting it through the Oireachtas [parliament] and into law as quickly as possible.”

“With this legislation accepted by cabinet, Ireland is set to take the lead in effectively banning ticket touting, subject to the approval of the Dáil [house of commons],” says Rock. “The legislation proposed is ambitious and sensible; it ensures an effective ban on ticket touting and also a ban on bots from snapping up tickets. I have no doubt that for sports and music fans, this legislation will be a game-changer.

“It’s now my ambition that, should this bill be passed by the Dáil and become law in Ireland, we see other nations across Europe replicating it.”

 


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