Ontario Government Proposes Measures Against Ticket-Buying Bots and Gouging by Resellers

Ever since ticket-buying bots and scalpers scooped up thousands of tickets to last year’s Tragically Hip tour, people have been screaming about the unfairness of it all. “Why is it legal for robots to scoop us meatbags when it comes to concert tickets, sporting events and theatre productions?”

The Ontario government was forced to do something, because the part of the problems stem from their changes to something called the Ontario Ticket Speculation Acct back in 2015, which opened up the market to ticket resellers in the first place.

They’ve been working on a plan for about a year now and had all kinds of public consultation. Earlier today, they announced what they’re going to do with legislation in the fall. Here are the proposals they came up with:

Banning ticket bots and the resale of tickets that were bought using bots.

Got it. Like it. But how do you enforce it?

Capping the resale price of tickets at 50% above face value

Okay, so that means no more crazy 1,000% markups and is obviously an adjustment to the Ontario Ticket Speculation Act of 2015. I get why they’re doing this—it’s a blatantly populist move—but it’s really not going to change anything. Concert tickets are a supply-and-demand situation. There will always be people who can afford to pay the asking price, no matter how stupid. It’s basic capitalism. Capping the maximum price one can charge for a resold ticket isn’t going to make it any easier for anyone to buy a ticket.  Then again, this might dissuade people from getting into the business of scalping in the first place. That might help. Might.

Requiring businesses selling tickets to disclose more information to consumers

That sounds like a call for some kind of transparency—and that should include Ticketmaster, right? Maybe disclosing how many tickets are actually available for sale to the general public after whatever is held back for fan clubs, VIP plans, American Express, bands and promoters. This won’t make it easier for the average Joe to buy tickets, but at least you’ll know what you’re up against.

Establishing new enforcement measures to make sure everyone follows the rules

That’s pretty vague, so we’ll see what that actually means. What enforcement mechanism can you apply to bots operating outside of Ontario? How much money and manpower is enforcement going to require? What will the penalties be?

Keep in mind that these are still proposals, not the actual legislation that will be introduced in the fall session. Meanwhile, expect the discussions and arguments to continue.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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