- 20 Apr 21
The Department of Trade has confirmed to Hot Press that the new bill – based on the initial draft legislation proposed by Noel Rock and Stephen Donnelly – doesn't preclude airline-style 'dynamic pricing'
The cabinet has today rubber-stamped new legislation, which will make the re-selling of tickets to festivals, concerts and sorting events at above face value illegal in Ireland with touts facing fines of up to €100,000 for breaches.
This will likely put an end to the online resale websites – we prefer to call them what they actually are, which is touts – that have increasingly managed to hoover up tickets using bots when they go on sale, leaving fans with no other option but to pay well over the odds.
When U2 last played Croke Park, those websites were asking – and apparently getting – over €1,000 for a single ticket.
The idea of making ticket touting illegal here through legislation was first mooted by government as far back as 1998. However all efforts to turning that intent into reality had subsequently foundered, The impetus for this new legislation was a private members’ bill, put forward in early 2017 by then Fine Gael TD Noel Rock and (now Minister for Health) Stephen Donnelly – who must be saluted for their efforts.
That bill, which has been subjected to a few minor tweaks since, was based on the Belgian model, which has pretty much put secondary ticketing websites out of business there.
There are, however, two interesting omissions. One is the fact that the bill does not address the airline-style ‘dynamic pricing’ that is commonplace in the United States. If, say, 2,000 tickets for a 4,000-capacity gig are put on sale for €50 each, and immediately sell-out, venues and promoters – and that, of course, means artists too – are within their right to charge whatever they like for the remainder because there’s no re-sale involved. There’s no provision either to limit the use of packages which offer tickets plus other incentives to deliver a higher revenue stream for both artists and promoters. In theory, a €50 ticket with a meal, t-shirt and other merch added could sell for whatever price the various interested parties think the marketplace will support.
“The focus of the legislation is on banning the resale of tickets above face value, so that real fans get a fair price,” says a Department of Trade spokesperson. “The Bill does not address ‘airline-style dynamic pricing’ for events, which is a matter for primary ticket sellers.”
It's therefore possible we may see emerging a new kind of two-tier system whereby if you have enough money access will be relatively easy, but if you don't it may be difficult to secure a ticket to cheer on your favourite artist or team. On that score, only time will tell.
In a sense, this is predictable: there is a tendency for prices to go up to the level that fans are willing to pay, as long as there's enough of them. And there is only so much that legislation can do. The bottom line is that, more than anyone else, the ability to control prices lies in the hands of artists and their management – who ultimately approve what the promoters can and can't do.
Either way, this is a good day's work by the Government, at least taking touting out of the equation. Here's to it...