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Fair Trading (Ticket Scalping) Amendment Bill

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (12:51): The purpose of this bill is to address the issue of ticket scalping, that is, the resale of tickets for an event for a profit. The bill proposes to do this by putting a limit on the amount that tickets can be resold for, and also limiting the number of tickets that a person can purchase. From what I understand, ticket scalping has existed for many years; however, it has become more and more of a problem in the past decade.

In the eighties and nineties, if people wanted to make a profit from reselling tickets, they needed to put in some legwork. For big events, scalpers would need to line up in order to secure a number of tickets in person from the ticket agent. In order to resell them, they had to advertise them in publications such as the Trading Post or stand out in front of the event in the hope of connecting with a fan who had been unable to secure tickets prior.

However, with the emergence of the internet, the ticket scalping game has changed dramatically. Most scalpers utilise bots to purchase mass quantities of tickets and then use online ticket resale platforms, such as Viagogo, to on-sell them, usually for a profit. This practice has meant that many true fans miss out on tickets simply because there are not enough to go around. It is virtually impossible to beat the bot software and regular punters often do not stand a chance to purchase tickets. As a result, scalpers are delivered a market which is desperate for tickets, a commodity they possess, and are free to sell them for an exorbitant profit.

It has been argued that one of the reasons ticket scalping occurs is because promoters and artists do not provide enough product for the demand; that is to say, that there are often only a limited number of concerts performed by artists who are very popular and, therefore, only a certain number of tickets available. If more performances were put on, then demand would be lessened as would the marketplace for ticket scalpers. However, for promoters, it is risky to put on too many shows. It is far more profitable to offer a limited run of a show and sell out rather than hold several shows which have a lesser attendance per performance. The latter option may even cost the promoter money if not enough tickets are sold. Venues which are at a higher capacity also provide a better atmosphere for attendees.

Ticket scalping has now become such a big issue that it has become an entire industry unto itself. The New York Times estimated that 60 per cent of tickets are bought by scalpers and the resale industry is worth a whopping $8 billion per annum. There are websites and companies which have been established solely for the purpose of providing a platform to resell tickets. In fact, Ticketek, one of Australia’s biggest ticket agents, established their own resale site. This move indicates that Ticketek are indifferent to the issue of scalping and regard scalping as part of the process for big ticket events.

America has gone down the line of prohibiting people from bypassing security measures put in place by ticket agents, and this has had the effect of making the practice of what the bots do illegal. I understand this has gone some way to stemming the tide of ticket scalping. I would be interested to hear if the government considered similar legislation here and, if so, why they chose to go down the path of a price cap instead? I commend the government on this bill.