Last month’s AFL Grand Final was an unforgettable experience for many Richmond fans, including for our consultant, Paul, and administration manager, Alli. However, it also prompted more complaints and questions about the practice of ticket scalping, which has ramifications for event organisers, performers and fans.
In March 2017, the Australian Senate passed a resolution recognising the benefits of having a resale market for consumers with a legitimate reason for on-selling tickets. There are situations when a person wishes to on-sell tickets and this should be allowed or facilitated, such as illness or a change in circumstances. The motion called for the Commonwealth Government to provide increased protection to consumers and follow the lead of lawmakers in the UK and the USA. It noted the “detrimental impact” on consumers of ticket scalping.
So, what is ticket scalping? Ticket scalping is the purchase of tickets to an event with the express intention of selling them to a third-party purchaser. The scalper tries to sell the ticket above their face value, which in many cases can lead to a considerable profit. The ‘scalper’ essentially engages in a commercial enterprise – they have no intention of attending the event, but rather purchase the ticket in pursuit of a gain. More sophisticated online technologies have exacerbated the problem by allowing robots to purchase many tickets quickly.
Under the Major Sporting Events Act 2009, the Victorian Government can make a major sports event declaration. This allows the Minister to make written guidelines for specified events, placing conditions on the sale and distribution of tickets. These conditions include prohibiting and restricting the sale or advertising of tickets above their face value. In practice, such declarations have only been made in respect of a limited number of events.
In relation to AFL matches in Victoria, only the Grand Final is declared a major event and covered by anti-scalping legislation. Hence, protections apply to the Grand Final but not to the rest of the Finals Series, or matches during the regular season. As a result, the legislation only has limited effect, and there have been calls for the Victorian Government to increase its coverage.
Purchasing tickets from unauthorised sellers carries the risk of buying a fake ticket or missing out on other consumer guarantees. Even large ticket resellers such as Ticketmaster Resale and Viagogo cannot guarantee the legitimacy of tickets, and consumers are urged to exercise caution before purchasing a ticket from an unauthorised seller.
Ultimately, consumers need to be careful when selling and purchasing tickets second-hand for concerts, sporting matches and other events. Obtaining front row seats still means queuing with the masses, though perhaps now via an online medium – unless buyers are prepared to risk being scammed.
By Marcus Frajman