In NSW, new laws to target ticket scalping started on 1 June 2018. It is against the law to resell tickets above the original cost, plus transaction costs (capped at 10% of the ticket cost). The new laws apply to all tickets to NSW events that are first sold or supplied by the authorised seller from 1 June 2018 and have a resale restriction. A resale restriction is a term or condition of a ticket that limits the circumstances in which the ticket may be resold, or prohibits resale of the ticket.
Who is defined as an ‘event organiser’?
The laws define event organisers as the person (including a corporation) who authorises the first supply of tickets to an event. This is determined by the contractual arrangements for the staging of the entertainment or sporting event.
What is the role of event organisers under the new laws?
The new laws refer to event organisers in two places:
- authorising package deals where tickets are sold in conjunction with other goods or services (e.g. dinner and show deals)
- compliance with a Ministerial order to publicly disclose ticket information
How does the Ministerial Order for public disclosure of ticketing information work?
The new laws give the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation the power to order event organisers to publish ticketing information about a certain event or events.
While the event organiser bears the legal obligation to comply with the order, they may seek help from other participants in staging the event (such as ticket agencies, event promoters) in obtaining the information needed and publishing it.
Failure to comply with a Ministerial order under the new laws is an offence, with a maximum penalty of $22,000 for an individual or $110,000 for a corporation.
The Minister must not issue an order unless:
- the Minister is satisfied that the event organiser has been given reasonable notice of the Minister's intent to make an order
- the event organiser has been given a reasonable opportunity to make submissions about the proposed order
- the Minister has considered any submissions received; and
- the Minister is satisfied that it is in the public interest to make the order.
The order requires the event organiser to publish the number of tickets that are made available for general public sale to a certain event. General public sale means the tickets are available to any member of the public, without them having to pre-register for access to ticket sales, pay any fees for special access to tickets, or be a member of any club or other restricted group.
The event organiser may publish a figure that they reasonably believe is not more than 10% above or below the actual number of tickets being offered to the general public.
If the number of tickets available for general public sale changes in the lead-up to an event, the event organiser can publish an updated figure. For example, in sporting events the location of sight screens or other infrastructure may change after tickets are first made available to the public which affects the available seats for sale. Also, some tickets previously allocated for club members or corporate partners may not be taken up and therefore released later for general public sale.
The Ministerial order itself will set out the steps the event organiser needs to take to comply.
If the Minister issues an order to publicly disclose ticketing information, what does an event organiser need to provide and how much time will they have?
If an event organiser is required to disclose ticketing information for an event by a Ministerial order, they will first be notified of the Minister's intent to make an order. They will be invited to make submissions in response and raise any concerns. They will have a reasonable opportunity to respond, although the amount of time they have may depend on the individual circumstances of the event (for example, how far away the event is).
The Minister will take the event organiser's submission into consideration and only make an order if satisfied that it is in the public's interest to do so.
If a Ministerial order is then issued for the public disclosure of information, the order itself will set out the steps required to comply with the order.
I operate a ticket resale website and am therefore a ‘publication owner’ under the new laws. Will I be penalised if a non-compliant advertisement is found on my website?
The ticket scalping laws make it an offence for publication owners to publish a prohibited advertisement. A publication owner is a ticket resale site operator (e.g. Viagogo, Ticketmaster Resale, StubHub, Twickets), social media (e.g. Facebook), a general sale platform that hosts ticket resale advertisements (e.g. eBay), newspaper or magazine publisher. The publication can be online or in printed form.
From 1 June 2018, any advertisement to resell a ticket must include the following or it is a prohibited advertisement:
- original ticket cost
- an asking price that is no more than 10% above the original ticket cost
- details of the location from which the ticket holder is authorised to view the event. For example, any bay, row or seat number for the ticket.
The new laws include certain defences against a prosecution for publishing prohibited advertisements. These defences are that the publication owner:
- required the person placing the ticket resale advertisement to agree to certain terms or conditions prohibiting the publication of prohibited advertisements on the website
- took steps as soon as practicable after being made aware of the prohibited advertisement to remove it from the publication
- took other reasonable steps to ensure no prohibited advertisements were published in the publication.
Fair Trading offers the following guidance for some other reasonable steps publication owners can consider taking to help prevent prohibited advertisements from being published:
- conducting regular compliance checks on the advertisements published
- manually checking every advertisement submitted for publication before it is listed on the website
- tracking suspected or known non-compliant users to restrict or prevent their activity on the website
- engagement with event organisers or other parties to determine official original cost prices for certain tickets, and 'hard-coding' this information into the website
- providing mechanisms for users to report suspected non-compliant advertisements
- requirements for sellers to provide proof of original purchase, which shows the original ticket cost and transaction costs paid
Fair Trading will apply its published Compliance and Enforcement policy (PDF, 159.7 KB) when assessing compliance and considering enforcement action in the ticket resale marketplace.
What are the rules for events where some tickets are sold before 1 June and some are sold after 1 June? Will these events/tickets be subject to the same rules?
The new laws apply to all tickets to NSW events first sold from 1 June 2018. Tickets sold before that date are not subject to the new laws, even if the event is held after 1 June.
For a short time after commencement, there may be events for which some tickets will be subject to the new laws and some will not.