Ontario to tackle scalper bots, ticket resales in broad consumer protection bill

CityNews | posted Thursday, Oct 5th, 2017

Beyonce and Jay Z tickets are offered for sale through StubHub in Chicago, Ill., on July 23, 2014. GETTY IMAGES/Scott Olson

Ontario is set to introduce ticket sale legislation Thursday that would ban so-called scalper bots and impose new rules on reselling tickets.

The Canadian Press has learned that it will be part of a larger consumer protection bill.

An outcry from fans shut out of buying tickets to the Tragically Hip’s farewell tour last year prompted the Ontario government to take a look at the issue.

Scalper bots are designed to purchase online a large number of tickets for a concert, show, or other event, enabling the person running the software to sell those tickets at a profit, and it would be illegal to knowingly resell a ticket originally purchased by a bot.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, however, has previously admitted enforcing a ban on scalper bots, which are not unique to Ontario, would be difficult.

Under the new legislation, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services agents would get the power to do inspections and lay fines against violators of the act. Companies themselves would also get the power to sue other companies for losses resulting from the use of bots.

Tickets could not be resold at more than 50 per cent above the face value, and that original price would have to be displayed.

Primary ticket sellers would have to tell buyers the capacity of the venue as well as how many tickets would be available through the general on-sale.

Ticket resale site StubHub has previously said it supports efforts to tackle bots, but that it values the ability of users to buy and sell tickets at prices fans deem appropriate, free from regulatory interference. It told the government during consultations that more regulatory burdens on the ticket market will drive sales off mainstream platforms that provide certain protections.

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