UK Regulators Seek New Powers To Stop Illegal Ticket Resales

The UK’s competition watchdog has stated ticket resale firms such as Viagogo and StubHub should face tighter rules. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) stated current laws meant it was not possible to act swiftly and effectively against touts, reported BBC.

Another problem came from resellers who speculatively sold tickets they did not own, the regulator said. The CMA has previously taken action against both Viagogo and StubHub, which have made changes as a result.

In February, a year after Viagogo bought StubHub for US$4.1 billion, the regulator told Viagogo to sell all of StubHub’s business outside North America to satisfy competition concerns.

Related: Viagogo Must Sell StubHub’s Non-US Business Says UK Watchdog

The CMA’s latest intervention comes as big music and sporting events are set to resume in the UK in the next few months after the Covid pandemic, fuelling fans’ demand for tickets.

The watchdog’s recommendations include: 

  • 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 licensing system for secondary ticket sites that would enable an authority to act quickly to take down websites, withdraw a business’s right to operate in the sector and impose substantial fines.

While bulk-buying of tickets by professional resellers – who then sell them at inflated prices – may be illegal, swift and effective action by authorities is not possible under the current law, the regulator stated.

The regulator began investigating nine years ago and has forced a number of changes to the way main sites operate, but now they want more power. They think it’s impossible to chase individual re-sellers for breaking the law so they want the secondary ticket platforms to be legally responsible for the behavior of the sellers trading on their sites.

According to BBC, if more tickets are being sold than one seller could legally buy from a venue, or are on sale before they could possibly have got hold of them, the CMA wants to be able to fine, or potentially take down the entire sites of Viagogo or Stubbhubb.

That’s a big change in how the market operates, and one which would provide a lot more protection to customers who are so keen to get back to live events after lockdown.