Canadians want crackdown on ticket reselling and bots: poll

Canadians are fed up with ticket resellers and want the government to make the practice illegal, a new poll by Angus Reid Institute suggests.

Angus Reid Institute suggests 81% want to see bots made illegal, with fines or jail time for resellers

Gordon Downie of The Tragically Hip performs on stage during the Man Machine Poem tour at the Air Canada Centre on Aug. 10, 2016 in Toronto. Many of the tickets for the cross-Canada tour were snapped up within minutes of going on sale by bots.

Canadians are fed up with bots and ticket resellers and want the government to make the secondary market illegal, a new poll by Angus Reid Institute suggests. 

The vast majority of those surveyed, 81 per cent, want bots to be illegal and have resellers face fines or jail time if they break the law. A similar majority — 76 per cent — called the bots a "huge problem," Angus Reid found.

CBC's Marketplace uncovered last year how sophisticated software, also called bots, can purchase thousands of tickets within milliseconds of seats going on sale while scalpers are then able to sell the tickets online to fans, often at a profit.

While ticket reselling along with the bots that purchase tickets are not illegal in Canada, it's clear many people in this country would like the scheme outlawed.

The issue made national headlines last year when two-thirds of tickets for the Tragically Hip's Man Machine Poem tour were snapped up by brokers and bots within minutes; leaving some lifelong fans dismayed, unable to afford the resale markup.

'A lot of frustration'

After tickets are gobbled up by bots faster than any human could buy a ticket, fans are often forced to turn to secondary markets, like SeatGeek or StubHub, where prices can several times higher than the original cost.

"You're talking about cultural events, concerts, sports events ... that people like to go to," said Shachi Kurl, executive director of Angus Reid Institute.

"There's a lot of frustration in terms of being able to get access."

The Angus Reid poll, the first public poll on this issue, was conducted through an online survey from April 17 to 20 among a randomized sample of 1,517 Canadian adults. A probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, the institute said.

"You don't need to be someone who's a U2 fan or a Tragically Hip fan to understand the level of disappointment when tickets for those events go on sale only to be completely purchased by bots within minutes of those sales opening," said Kurl.

While only one in four surveyed had ever purchased tickets from an online reseller, the majority, 60 per cent, said the cost was unreasonable when they did.

The results show Canadians are "very decided" and have "pronounced views," said Kurl. 

Last year, after Broadway shows became a high-profile targets of bots, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made ticket bots illegal in the state, calling the practice "predatory" and "wrong."

A new poll by Angus Reid Institute suggests most Canadians want ticket bots and ticket reselling made illegal. The practice often targets highly sought-after tickets for famous artists like Beyoncé, shown here. (Daniela Vesco/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/The Associated Press)

In Canada, while ticket bots remain legal, some provinces are taking steps to curtail the technology.

Ontario's Liberals conducted public consultations in March to "practical solutions" for fans a fair shot at buying tickets for concerts, sports and other events, while a private member's bill, introduced by MPP Sophie Kiwala in 2016, aims to stop ticket bots. 

Also last year, Manitoba's Progressive Conservative government promised to pass new laws regulating secondary ticket sales. The Prairie province is one of the few in Canada that outlaws the reselling of tickets for a greater price than the original cost.

Kurl said there is still time and an appetite for industry to make changes.

"Half say this is actually something industry needs to clean up on its own," Kurl said.

"Industry has a lot of room based on these results to present some options or to present some potential solutions and really make some changes itself in order to avoid government intervention."

About the Author

Laura Glowacki


Laura Glowacki is based in Winnipeg. Reach her at and find her on Twitter @glowacky.