Secondary Ticketing "bots ban"
A year on from Professor Michael Waterson’s 200+ page report on the ticket re-sale market, the discussion around ticket touting has been reignited.The Government have finally responded to Waterston’s report and issued what is being called a “bots ban”, allowing an unlimited fine to those caught buying tickets in bulk with the intent to profit from them. Ticket specialist Reg Walker stated in a 2015 interview with the BBC, "As soon as tickets are harvested, they are flipped straight over onto a small number of so-called ticket marketplaces. The public are forced then to buy at inflated prices. We've seen £75 tickets go for upwards of £1,200.". Two years on, and the issue remains, with front row seats to Coldplay, originally £143, now selling for £300.68- £1,039.80 on SeatWave, a secondary ticketing website owned by Ticketmaster. Matt Hancock, Conservative politician stated, “We agree with Professor Waterson’s review - which has widespread support - which did not recommend a ban on secondary ticketing, not just because there are benefits for the average consumer, but because it would not lead to the absence of secondary ticketing.
Earlier this year, Ed Sheeran teamed up with legal, safe, secondary-ticket selling company, Twickets who’s website claims it is “A Face Value or Less, Fan to Fan Ticket Exchange”. Sheeran chose this route after tickets for his O2 Arena Show last year sold out immediately then ended up on tout websites ranging from face-value, £77 up to £999 plus a booking fee. According to a campaign against industrial-scale online ticket touting. FANFAIR, “based on resales from Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! & Seatwave the UK’s secondary ticketing market is worth more than £1bn per year.” FANFAIR also states: “half of this total is thought to derive from music events”.
Adam Wedd, FANFAIR Campaign Manager claimed, “It’s complete common sense- that’s why you’re seeing the uptake of services like Twickets. It’s all to make it easy to sell on a genuinely unwanted ticket for face value. The barrier to progress here is the unregulated and industrial scale of touting that takes place on Get Me In, Seatwave, StubHub and Viagogo. Most of their listings are not unwanted tickets- they are placed there by hardcore touts to make a profit.”Despite re-selling tickets at exploiting prices not being enough for a prison sentence, something did happen previously this year that stirred more discussion amongst the Government. A box in the Royal Albert Hall, close to the royal box, is being re-sold for £2.5 million. With ticket touting now starting to impact on the rich, it could be argued that the Government may start to take some major notice. Walker told The Guardian, “It’s been going on for years and there’s not a venue in the UK that hasn’t been infiltrated by touts this way,”. “There’s massive amounts of money to be made because if you’ve got a box, or a section of seats, you’ve got them all year round. As a tout, it gets you a regular supply of good seats without having to get up early when tickets go on sale or use a bot [automated software] to harvest tickets.” Hancock stated, “I would like to assure you that the Government has a continuing interest in the area of secondary ticketing, and recognises the process of distributing and buying tickets can often be a cause for public frustration and concern. We are determined to crackdown on unacceptable behaviour and improve fans’ chances of buying tickets at a reasonable price.”
He continued, “The Government published its response to the review on 13th March this year, which welcomed the review and accepted all nine recommendations in full. As part of our response, the Digital Economy Bill currently before Parliament includes a provision to give us the power to create a specific offence of using a ticketing bot (a software application that runs automated tasks over the internet) to purchase more tickets than the maximum permitted, to put beyond doubt the illegality of this practice. Those found guilty of this offence will face an unlimited fine in England and Wales.”