In the UK, most tickets for live events can be purchased through a variety of channels on the primary market (eg from the box office), as well as from ticket resellers, including via secondary ticketing websites. Based on data provided from all the main secondary platform providers in the UK, the CMA’s merger investigation estimated the value of the tickets sold in 2019 through secondary ticketing platforms was about £350 million. 

Over recent years the CMA has worked with secondary ticketing websites to improve the information given to consumers.  This has included information about ticket availability and informing customers where the tickets they buy might lead to them being turned away at the door.

As the covid pandemic (hopefully) recedes, live events such as music festivals and large sporting events will resume over the coming months.  The CMA has made some recommendations to change the law and existing system of regulation.  Its recommendations are intended to protect consumers and include:

  • a ban on platforms allowing resellers to sell more tickets for an event than they can legally buy from the primary market;
  • ensuring platforms are fully responsible for incorrect information about tickets that are listed for sale on their websites;
  • a new system of licensing for platforms that sell secondary tickets that would enable an authority to act quickly and issue sanctions such as taking down websites, withdrawing a business’s right to operate in the sector, and the imposition of substantial fines.

Although the bulk-buying of tickets ahead of real fans by professional resellers – who then sell them at inflated prices – may be illegal, swift and effective action by authorities is not possible under the current law. Similar issues arise in relation to laws which prevent resellers advertising tickets using incorrect information, or ‘speculatively selling’ tickets that they do not own.  Therefore, the CMA hopes that the UK government will implement its proposals and says it will assist the government in doing so. 

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