Ban on touting of tickets above face value set to be law before end of month

Minister says Bill ‘very timely’ as concerts, theatre, matches begin to start up again

 Pilot festival event at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Denise Chaila during her performance. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Pilot festival event at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Denise Chaila during her performance. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

 

A ban on touts re-selling tickets for large popular gigs including concerts and sports events above face value is set to become law before the end of the month, four years after it was first considered.

The prohibition of sales above face value will carry a penalty for infringement of up to €100,000 or two years imprisonment.

The ban will apply to cultural, entertainment, recreational and sporting events with exemptions for clubs to allow them fund raise through raffles of allocated tickets for example for an All-Ireland final. This is to ensure a vital and traditional source of income is not cut off.

Minister of State for Enterprise Robert Troy who introduced the Sale of Tickets Bill said it was very timely, since the country looked forward to a point in the near future “when we will be able to attend concerts, the theatre, and matches again.”

He mentioned the positive pilot festival at Kilmainham, Dublin over the weekend and said they was “important that we are prepared for the inevitable increase in demand for tickets for live events.

“We want to prevent fans from being taken advantage of due to the limit on their attendance in the interest of public health.”

But he added: “The benefits of this legislation will long outlive the public health measures out in place to stem Covid-19.

“We have heard all too often of the experiences of genuine fans waiting patiently to buy tickets, only to miss out, and then to see those same tickets for sale on a secondary site for far more than they can afford, far more than are willing to pay, and far more than what the original value was.”

Mr Troy said the systematic purchase of tickets by touts and secondary sellers, looking to make a quick profit at the expense of sports and music fans, sporting bodies, actors and promoters “needs to stop,” and the Bill was the best way to do that.

He admitted it had been in development for some time, with a consultation process begun in 2017 after a number of attempts to pass private members’ legislation, first through a Bill by former Fine Gael TD Noel Rock and Fianna Fail TD Stephen Donnelly and the following year with legislation from Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan.

Fine Gael Senator Garret Ahearn paid tribute to Mr Rock, who lost his seat at the last election, and who he said had pioneered the fight against ticket-touting.

Mr Ahearn said that before the pandemic tickets for U2 concerts in Croke Park, with a face value of €80-€90 on Ticketmaster, went to parallel resale outlets with a price tag of up to €1,300.

The Minister said consultation showed almost universal support among the public for a ban on the resale of tickets above their face value.

The GAA and FAI, along with Ireland’s two main events organisers, Aiken Promotions and MCD also backed the Bill as did the Consumer Association of Ireland and many other organisations.

Ticketmaster, one of the largest primary sellers that also got involved in the resale of tickets, announced in 2018 it would close its secondary sale website Seatwave.

There are fears however that online traders outside the jurisdiction will continue to tout tickets, but a number of Senators said they hoped it would end the affront of scalpers demanding huge sums outside concerts and critical sporting events.

Fianna Fail Senator Ollie Crowe said it was “always infuriating to see touts selling tickets outside Croke Park when I know genuine supporters have not been able to get a ticket”.

The Bill goes back to the Dáil on Thursday for final debate on a number of amendments.