Reforming Event Ticketing
Implementing rules to take on ticket touts and change industry practice
Sporting and musical events often see a huge demand for tickets, with many willing to pay a premium to get access. Secondary sellers, both legitimate and illicit, fill this gap in the market and make a large profit. Professor Michael Waterson produced a report for the Government on how to regulate this grey area. His recommendations were adopted, reforming ticketing practice and protecting consumers from secondary sellers trading tickets at inflated prices.
Research into consumer choices and behaviour shows that many will pay far over the list price when a desired item is in short supply. Traders can use secondary ticketing platforms to take advantage of this by re-selling tickets to events at highly inflated prices. Profits from touting do not reach the venue or artist, and the practice can undermine efforts to make events more accessible. Any changes to law would need to clamp down on the worst sellers, whilst still allowing a legitimate secondary ticketing market to operate.
Professor Waterson produced his report, the Independent Review of Consumer Protection Measures concerning Online Ticketing Facilities, in May 2016. It collected written and oral evidence from a number of stakeholders including:
The report set out the issues around the selling and reselling of event tickets and considered whether the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) satisfactorily addressed these issues. Professor Waterson made a series of recommendations to improve the CRA with regards to secondary ticketing.
The Government adopted all of Professor Waterson’s recommendations. Theresa May twice referred to the Waterson Report at Prime Minister’s Questions. In response to the report, National Trading Standards and the Competition and Markets Authority started a crackdown on resellers. In April 2018 the Government introduced new rules to require all secondary sellers to give detailed information about tickets. For the first time, resellers had to provide the Unique Ticket Number, original price, seat location and any applicable restrictions. In addition, an amendment to the Digital Economy Act in 2018 gave regulators the power to criminalise mass purchases of tickets using bots.
Music managers and artists have come together to create the "#Toutsout" guide to clamp down on illicit resales. New start-ups are now seeking technological solutions to the problems identified by Professor Waterson. His advice is being sought by industry groups and governments in the UK and abroad.