Ontario government to consult fans about event ticket selling, buying

The Ontario government wants input from the public to develop "practical solutions" for giving people a "fair shot" at buying tickets for concerts, sports and other events, says Attorney General Yasir Naqvi.

Yasir Naqvi promises legislation this spring to protect consumers

Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi says the province wants the public's input so it can develop laws to give fans a 'fair shot' at landing concert, sports and other event tickets. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

The Ontario government wants input from the public to develop "practical solutions" for giving people a "fair shot" at buying tickets for concerts, sports and other events, says Attorney General Yasir Naqvi.

Navqi told a news conference Tuesday the government will consult fans about accessibility, affordability, transparency and enforcement, with the goal of introducing legislation in the spring. 

"Ontario is home to some of the best artists, performers and athletes in the world," he said, then listed many of the popular concert, sports and theatre events in the province.

"From the Hip to Drake and Bieber to the Jays, the Raptors, and of course, the Sens, I'm from Ottawa, to great performances like Come From Away, The Book of Mormon and The Bodyguard, we have a lot to be proud of. But we also have a real problem when it comes to fans getting a fair shot at buying tickets."
Sometimes resale sites are the only way to get tickets to popular performances, like Come From Away, a musical that tells the story of the people of Gander, Nfld., who opened their hearts and homes to stranded plane passengers on 9/11. (Matthew Murphy)

Naqvi, speaking at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, urged members of the public to go to to fill out an online survey.

The issue of ticket scalping was in high drive last year when Kingston, Ont., band the Tragically Hip announced a series of cross-country concerts featuring lead singer Gord Downie, who had announced he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. 

"What happened with the Hip's Man Machine Poem tour really, really personally bugged me," said Naqvi. "Tickets to shows across Canada were bought up in seconds and then reappeared immediately on resale sites at hugely inflated prices, prices that were out of reach for a lot of fans."

Naqvi said the internet has led to a greater variety of options for people who want to buy tickets quickly, but it also has created a platform for "scalper bots." He said the underground technology scoops up huge blocks of tickets, shutting out regular fans who are forced to go to expensive ticket resellers.

"Fans deserve a fair shot at getting tickets to seeing their favourite band, sports team, or performance, but right now, the rules around buying and selling tickets online are not doing enough for fans.They are not putting them first. Our government is going to change that," said Naqvi.
The Tragically Hip's Gord Downie performs during the first stop of the Man Machine Poem Tour in Victoria on July 22, 2016. Attorney General Yasir Naqvi says what happened with Hip tour tickets 'really, really bugged' him. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

He said the province wants to change the rules, namely the Ticket Speculation Act, but will consult the public first. According to the website, Ontario residents have until March 15 to complete the survey.

"I really want practical solutions," he said.

Naqvi was joined Tuesday by Kingston MPP Sophie Kiwala, who has introduced a private member's bill aimed at banning the scalper bots.

Last October, Naqvi promised that legislation would be introduced by this spring to try to protect consumers — although he admitted it would be tough to stop resellers operating in other jurisdictions.

Naqvi said he wanted to consult with colleagues in other jurisdictions like New York, which is also struggling with the issue.  

Naqvi said there's no easy way to stop people operating in other jurisdictions from using computer software to make bulk purchases of tickets to resell at above face value.

New rules will build on private member's bill

The government's legislation is expected to build on a private member's bill by Kiwala that also was aimed at banning "scalper bots."
The Ontario government wants fans to have a 'fair shot' at tickets to events, including hockey games. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Bill 22: The Ticket Speculation Amendment Act (Purchase and Sale Requirements), 2016, would prohibit the use of software that bypasses security measures on ticket-selling websites.

It would also require that the face value cost of tickets be disclosed in resale offers.

The bill, which has been referred to a standing committee, has passed second reading in the Ontario Legislature.

In a news release, the provincial government said it will also talk to artists and entertainment industry representatives about ticket selling and reselling and ways to change the laws. 

CBC's Marketplace investigated ticket sales last October, shortly after Naqvi announced the province would table legislation to combat ticket-buying software used by resellers. To watch The Ticket Game click here.

With files from The Canadian Press


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