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Watchdog calls for stronger laws to tackle illegal ticket resales

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The competition watchdog has said ticket sales on platforms such as Viagogo and StubHub should be subject to tighter rules.

Bulk-buying of tickets ahead of real fans by professional resellers – who then sell them at inflated prices – is illegal, but swift and effective action by authorities is not possible under the current law, according to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

It said there was also problems with laws preventing resellers ‘speculatively selling’ tickets they don’t own.

The CMA has set out several recommendations including:

    • 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.

The recommendations come as live events such as music festivals and large sporting events resume over the coming months.

The CMA has taken strong action against secondary ticketing websites in recent years.

For example, it has required Viagogo and StubHub to remove misleading messaging about ticket availability and to tell customers where the tickets they buy might lead to them being turned away at the door.

George Lusty, senior director for consumer protection at the CMA, said: “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 French, consumer rights expert at Which?, said: “Which? has repeatedly exposed rogue secondary ticket operators reselling tickets at extortionate prices without providing clear information or warning about the risk that people could be turned away at the door.

“It’s positive to see the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) pushing for changes that should offer all ticket buyers much stronger protections.

“The government should implement these recommendations as soon as possible and push forward with plans to give the CMA much stronger powers to enforce consumer law.”

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