British Columbia

B.C.'s proposed law banning ticket-buying bots doesn't go far enough, reseller says

Most are welcoming the news of a crackdown on ticket-selling bots and mass-buying software but some say there are unanswered questions and missed opportunities.

Bots are bad, agrees Kingsley Bailey, but lack of transparency among primary sellers is the real issue

One person in the industry lays the blame for ticket woes at the feet of primary sellers.

It sounds like music to many concert-goers' ears: B.C. is moving to ban ticket-selling bots and eliminate mass-buying software altogether.

If passed, the Ticket Sales Act would eliminate the use of bots that scoop up batches of tickets before fans even have a chance of buying them at face value.

"We want to ensure that everyone has a fair chance at obtaining a ticket at a fair price," Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said after the government tabled the act Tuesday.

It would require secondary ticket-sellers to disclose more information, meaning companies like Ticketmaster and StubHub will have to clearly show the face-value ticket price, plus a break-down of any extra fees.

It would also ban the sale of speculative tickets — when someone tries to sell a ticket before they even have a ticket to sell.

Bots the big issue

One tech expert says ticket-selling bots are a huge barrier for fairness.

"The biggest problem right now for consumers is, we go to buy tickets and you get there right at the moment the ticket sale starts and 30 seconds later, everything is sold out," Graham Williams said.

"The biggest change now is you will be able to log in and not have that happen."

However, some say the proposed legislation contains unanswered questions and missed opportunities.

'Manipulating the market'

Ticket reseller Kingsley Bailey says he's glad action is being taken against unscrupulous players in the resale business but thinks the problem goes all the way to the top, to the companies that sell the tickets in the first place.

In an interview with On The Coast guest host Margaret Gallagher, he said more transparency is needed in the industry about how many tickets are being held back from general sale for member-only deals, early access and other promotions by the primary ticket-sellers.

"They are completely manipulating the market today." Bailey said of primary sellers. "If there is transparency in the marketplace then everything is going to fall into place."

Farnworth said the new legislation does not deal with that issue because the amount of tickets held back can be influenced by the type of event and the venue, not the primary seller.

At a press conference Tuesday, Farnworth was pressed on the issue of enforcement.

He told reporters Tuesday that the bill, if passed into law, would allow for civil action against rule-breakers and for the cancellation of tickets being sold fraudulently.

With files from Tanya Fletcher and CBC Radio One's On The Coast


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