Ticket scalping refers to a situation where persons, known as "scalpers", systematically buy a large number of sport or entertainment event tickets with the sole aim of reselling them for a higher price than the initial purchase price. In two jurisdictions there have been recent changes to the fair trading laws to attempt to make "ticket scalping" more difficult. The two jurisdictions are New South Wales and South Australia.
From 1 June 2018, the amendments made by the Fair Trading Amendment (Ticket Scalping and Gift Cards) Act 2017 (No 52 of 2017) to the Fair Trading Act 1987 (see the new Part 4A) commenced. These amendments prohibit anyone from reselling a ticket to a NSW event for more than the original cost price, plus the transaction costs incurred in the original purchase, and such transaction costs are capped at 10% of the original ticket cost.
The changes to the Fair Trading Act apply to tickets to events held in NSW from 1 June 2018 that have a resale restriction (a term or condition on the ticket that limits the circumstances in which the ticket may be resold, or prohibits resale of the ticket).
Advertising for the resale of tickets is required to specify the original cost of the ticket and a resale price that is no more than 10% above the original cost as well as including any bay, row or seat number that is applicable to the ticket. Further, the new laws include an additional protection for consumers that prevent an event organiser from cancelling a ticket on the basis it was resold, if the ticket was sold in accordance with the new laws.
The use of "bots" (computer programs allowing ticket scalpers to circumvent the security measures on ticketing websites to rapidly buy tickets in large quantities and place them on resale websites at inflated prices) is also banned by the amendments made to the Fair Trading Act.
The new laws also give the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation the power to order an event organiser to publish ticketing information about a certain event or events. The order will require the event organiser to publish the number of tickets that are to be made available for general public sale to a certain event.
Regulations have also been made see Fair Trading Amendment (Ticket Scalping and Gift Cards) Regulation 2018 (No 37 of 2018) which provide for, among other matters, offences relating to ticket scalping for which penalty notices may be issued.
Currently, in South Australia, ticket scalping is dealt with under section 9 of the Major Events Act 2013 (No 63 of 2013). The Act provides for penalties of $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for a body corporate if they, without the written approval of the event organiser for a major event, sell or offer for sale a ticket for admission to the event; or in any other case, sell or offer for sale a ticket for admission to the event at a price which exceeds the original ticket price by more than 10%.
On 30 May 2018 the SA Government introduced the Fair Trading (Ticket Scalping) Amendment Bill 2018 (the Bill) into the parliament. The Bill would repeal the above mentioned section 9 of the Major Events Act 2013 and replace it with the insertion of a new Part 4A into the Fair Trading Act 1987 dealing with the regulation of event ticket transactions.
The Bill would prohibit advertising for the resale of tickets or the actual resale to an event in South Australia to which the provisions apply for an amount that exceeds 110 per cent of the original supply cost of the ticket. This amendment is in line with other state jurisdictions, for example, NSW. Further, the Bill amendments would require that any resale advertisement must include certain information, including the original supply cost of the ticket and the details of the location from which the ticket holder is authorised to view the event, including, for example, any bay number, row number or seat number of the ticket.
In the other jurisdictions the relevant legislation is as follows:
The Commonwealth currently has consumer laws that offer some protection against the exploitative or dishonest activities of some scalpers, although such laws do not apply specifically to ticket scalping. The Australian Consumer Law is "a single, national, generic law covering consumer protection and fair trading that applies in the same way nationally and in each State and Territory". Its general provisions such as those dealing with "deceptive and misleading conduct" are seen as adequate protection at the federal level.
In the ACT the Major Events Act 2014 (No 42 of 2014) provides a comprehensive major events legislation scheme, which includes ticket scalping.
In Victoria the Major Events Legislation Amendment (Ticket Scalping and Other Matters) Act 2018 (No 13 of 2018) which was assented to on 15 May 2018, amended the Major Sporting Events Act 2009 in relation to ticket scalping and also repealed the Tourism Victoria Act 1992. The amendment to the Major Sporting Events Act 2009 expands the Act to cover non-sporting major events, such as cultural events, including theatre events, concerts, gallery exhibitions and festivals, in relation to the ticket scalping provisions and empowers the minister of the day to make a major event ticketing declarations, which will apply new ticket scalping offences to both major sporting events and other major events that are declared by the Minister for Tourism and Major Events.
In Queensland, amendments to the Major Sports Facilities Act 2001 (No 84 of 2001) have been in place since 8 December 2006 which make ticket scalping an offence at certain specified event venues. The Queensland legislation was made in response to growing incidents of people acquiring tickets to popular sporting events with the sole purpose of making a profit from their re-sale. The Queensland legislation requires that a person must not resell or purchase tickets to events held at one of the major sports facility at a price greater than 10 per cent more than the original ticket purchase price. The provisions are applicable to the sale and purchase of tickets both from within and outside of Queensland. The Queensland Police are responsible for enforcing the legislation and under the Act can issue fines to anyone committing a ticket scalping offence. Sellers of scalped tickets face a maximum fine of 20 penalty points or $1,500 and buyers face a maximum fine of 5 penalty points or $375.
In Western Australia, a Major Events (Ticket Scalping) Bill 2014 (111 of 2014) for an Act to control the resale of tickets to certain events and for related purposes was introduced as a private member's Bill in the previous Parliament, but lapsed with the election of the new government and to date has not been reintroduced.
Currently Tasmania and the Northern Territory have not made any specific legislation to deal with ticket scalping.
TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.
Fair Trading Amendment (Ticket Scalping and Gift Cards) Act 2017 (No 52 of 2017) [NSW] and supporting material, available from TimeBase's LawOne Service.
Fair Trading (Ticket Scalping) Amendment Bill 2018 (11 of 2018) [SA] and supporting material, available from TimeBase's LawOne Service.
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