Online marketplaces eBay and viagogo have argued against proposed regulation by the New South Wales government which would regulate ticket onselling, saying that it could drive consumers to the black market.
If the law is passed, it would become illegal to resell tickets to sporting and entertainment events for more than 10 per cent.
NSW Sports Minister Graham Annesley and Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts are responsible for the proposed legislation.
Roberts said that it is not focussed on removing the option for those unable to attend events to sell tickets.
“We would welcome industry initiatives to develop such a secondary market controlled by ticket operators,” he said in a statement.
“The government is keen to ensure that secondary outlet sellers and potential buyers are accurately advised of the terms and conditions at the sale of those tickets, including provision for possible cancellation.”
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However, eBay Asia Pacific head of public policy Sassoon Grigorian said that regulation will not achieve consumer protection or improve transparency.
“If we really want to be advocating for consumers, governments should be looking at improving transparency at point of sale in the primary market,” he said.
“The industry should be required to enforce greater transparency in how many tickets are distributed to the public and disclose that percentage publicly.”
According to Grigorian, only 7 per cent of tickets for a Justin Bieber concert in February 2013 were available for purchase by the public. The other 93 per cent had already been set aside for other partners.
He pointed out that the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council (CCAAC) reviewed ticket onselling and its impact on consumers in 2010 with the report <i>Ticket Scalping: Ticket onselling and consumers</i>.
Following the review, CCAAC reported that the volume of onselling was exaggerated. As a result, it determined that there was no need to bring in laws to regulate the on-selling market as current laws were adequate.
The review also found that promoters already have it within their power to make their practices more transparent and consumer friendly.
Grigorian added that onselling via the Internet helps consumers and suppliers by providing more access to tickets, easy transfers and improved ticket sales.
According to viagogo CEO Eric Baker, the secondary market is often the only option for people who can’t get tickets from the box office.
“If you restrict it with the type of legislation proposed in NSW, you simply drive people back to the black market, where there is no price transparency or consumer protection.”
Baker said he believes in a free market approach where people who have bought a ticket have the right to resell it at any price they choose.
“Half a million Australians were ripped off in the past 12 months when buying tickets from the likes of eBay and Gumtree. That’s the real issue here and the one we are already addressing by introducing a safe, secure and guaranteed marketplace to Australian consumers for the very first time,” he said.
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick