Belfast Telegraph

Ticket touts face unlimited fines in crackdown on resale websites

Tech-savvy touts who use computer programs to mine for concert tickets in vast quantities before selling them for huge profits are to face unlimited fines.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will announce the measure in a crackdown on resale websites where tickets are sold at many times their face value, blocking fans from seeing their favourite artists.

One secondary ticketing website, Viagogo, was last month accused of "moral repugnance" for reselling tickets to an Ed Sheeran cancer charity gig for up to £5,000.

And an £85 seat to see Adele at the London O2 last year was reportedly being sold online for £24,840.

Automated "bots" can get around security measures designed to limit ticket purchases and snap up hundreds of tickets as soon as they go on sale.

Almost immediately, the tickets appear at vastly-inflated prices on resale sites, which also include GET ME IN! and StubHub.

But the use of bots will now become a criminal offence and touts who break the law will face an unlimited fine.

Culture minister Matt Hancock said: "This profiteering is simply not fair, so we are acting to put fans first and improve the chances of seeing our favourite musicians and sports stars at a reasonable price.

"Ticket sellers also need to do more, by improving transparency and ensuring that they are acting in the best interests of consumers and help the market work for everyone."

The move was welcomed by Jo Dipple, the chief executive of music industry representatives UK Music.

She said: "Massive profit is made by people who are taking value out of the music industry and putting tickets out of the reach of music fans.

"Banning bots is a step towards ensuring the ticketing market for live events works more fairly for gig-goers."

Primary ticket firms, such as Ticketmaster, will also be encouraged to report bot attacks to police as the Government takes on the recommendations made in a review by Professor Michael Waterson.

The firms must also introduce tougher anti-bot measures and there will be stronger enforcement of existing consumer rights laws.

Richard Davies, founder of fan-to-fan face-value ticket reseller Twickets, said: "It's heartening to hear that, after years of campaigning, the Government appears to have gotten the bit between its teeth on clamping down on the profiteering rife within the secondary market.

"The news that Trading Standards will be funded to enforce these measures and that Prof Waterson's other recommendations have been accepted in full are also welcome, though we urge the Government to go further and ban secondary ticketing for profit outright."

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