Ontario government to consult fans about event ticket selling, buying
Yasir Naqvi promises legislation this spring to protect consumers
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.
Naqvi, speaking at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, urged members of the public to go to ontario.ca/tickets 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.
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
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