Pressure mounts on government to ban ticket touts


Labour MP Sharon Hodgson has spoken out about ongoing ticketing abuse in the music, sports and entertainment arenas, calling on the government to ban the practice.

The co-chair of a parliamentary group on secondary ticketing said yesterday (Monday) that the time for ‘tinkering’ was over and the government should act.

Hodgson first launched the #PutFansFirst campaign in 2010, calling for regulation of the secondary ticketing market and tabling a private members’ bill to end mark-ups of more than 10 percent on resold tickets.

She spoke out in parliament again yesterday as pressure mounts on the government to address the issue, following revelations in the so-called Paradise Papers about Quebec-based super-tout Julien Lavallee’s offshore tax practices.

As reported in the Daily Record, Hodgson told parliament: ‘The uncovering of tax dodging by touts such as Lavallee shows exactly why this broken market must be fixed so fans are finally put first.

‘I have repeatedly called for HMRC [HM Revenues and Customs] to look into the tax arrangements of ticket touts and the close relationships touts have with the secondary ticketing platforms.

‘This new information shows just how important it is for this matter to now be taken seriously. It is high time these tax arrangements were investigated fully.’

Hodgson’s latest outburst follows news in The Guardian last week that the offices of StubHub and Viagogo were raided by the Competitions & Markets Authority (CMA) in August, after failure to hand over details of their ties with prominent ticket touts.

The move formed part of the CMA’s ongoing enforcement investigation into the ‘big four’ resale platforms.

FanFair Alliance, the music industry pressure group set up to tackle this issue, has responded in a statement: ‘These reported actions by the CMA are a welcome development.

‘It is no secret that the model of so-called “secondary ticketing” promoted by Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave has resulted in UK audiences being systematically ripped off on an industrial scale. Contrary to their slick marketing campaigns, these platforms are dominated by professional touts who are seemingly offered incentives to sell ever higher volumes of tickets.

‘The new revelations from the Paradise Papers highlight a jaw-dropping scale of complicity between large-scale sellers and one of the platforms, with Canadian-based tout, Julien Lavallee, turning over millions of dollars each year and then using an offshore firm to avoid tax. Lavallee’s company, I Want Tickets, has harvested and resold thousands of tickets for UK events, and was active on StubHub as recently as August 2017.

‘We believe such practices are not isolated to a single platform. Nor that Lavallee is a one-off. FanFair has identified a range of dubious businesses, including offshore holding companies, reselling significant volumes of tickets to a variety of UK events.

‘What we now need is root-and-branch reform. As well as regulatory action, we urge the Culture Media & Sport Select Committee to revisit the issue of ticket abuse and for the government to enforce legislation in a meaningful way. The UK is celebrated for its live music scene, and we should have the best and most transparent system of ticket resale – not a market polluted by these shabby and disgraceful practices.’