Ticket touts face prison sentences under new law

Ticket touts and those reselling tickets for large events above face value will face fines of up to €10,000 or up to two years in prison under proposed new legislation.

The Sale of Tickets (Cultural, Entertainment, Recreational and Sporting Events) Bill 2021 could become law as early as June to prevent an upsurge in touting with the return of sports and music events post-Covid.

The bill will ban the resale of tickets to live events, matches and concerts in designated events and venues at a price above face value, with an exemption for amateur sports clubs and registered charities for fundraising purposes.

A person found guilty of an offence under the act will face a fine of up to €100,000 or up to two years’ imprisonment.

Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Leo Varadkar said: “We’re all looking forward to the day we can go to gigs, festivals and matches again. This law gives me hope.

“We’re planning for a time when live events are possible again. Numbers will likely be restricted to begin with so it’s even more important that people aren’t ripped off and that tickets go to real fans.

“There is a specific provision in the Bill for the Euro championships later this year, banning the unauthorised sale of tickets for matches. Even though it is hard to know how the championship will proceed this year, we will be pushing to have this new law in place before the 11th of June, when it is scheduled to begin.”

Once enacted, operators of venues with a capacity to hold 1,000 people or more will be able to apply to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment for designation of that venue. When designated, reselling of tickets above the original sales price for that venue will be prohibited.

The legislation also provides that event organisers or venue operators may apply for the designation of events which takes place on an annual or other periodic basis in the same venue.

When a ticket is sold for an event which has been designated or which is to take place in a designated venue then the original seller must be given clear information (with the ticket and when advertising) that tickets cannot be resold above face value for the event in question.

Resellers of these tickets must also provide information on the original sale price of the ticket and the location of the seat or standing area to which, the ticket entitles the holder to gain admission.

Robert Troy, minister of state with responsibility for trade promotion, digital and company regulation, said: “This bill will stop opportunists with no interest or involvement in music or sport enriching themselves at the expense of sports and music fans, sporting bodies, artists and promoters.

“And importantly, fans will have all the information they need to ensure they are not being ripped off. I recognise that sometimes there are justified reasons for reselling tickets above face value, for example, when charities are fund-raising, so allowances have been made in such instances.”

He added: “While matches and concerts with fans are still some way off, we expect numbers allowed to attend are likely to be restricted in the initial phases of eased restrictions. Ticket touts could only be too willing to exploit the opportunities presented by restricted attendances for popular events.

“With this in mind, the bill now includes a provision for the fast-track designation of venues or events if the normal designation procedure cannot be completed before events attended by fans resume.

“Our ambition is for this Bill to proceed quickly to enactment and be in place for future events. The published legislation reflects recommendations made during pre-legislative scrutiny, making it stronger and fit for a post-Covid landscape.”