Australia has failed to keep up with international efforts to tackle ticket bots and it’s time the federal government intervened.
That’s the line according to Live Performance Australia, which has implored Canberra to get tough with a mix of legislation and enforcement to combat “bots” — computerized software which scoop up tickets that are then resold on the secondary market, often at vastly increased prices.
“The U.K. and U.S. have taken action, but the Turnbull Government is missing in action,” says LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson in a statement. “Bots are a global problem, and Australia should be part of the global response.”
With bots apparently snatching the best tickets to the hottest gigs, from Justin Bieber to Midnight Oil, scalping has become an urgent talking point Down Under. “For some popular shows, bots can make up the majority of visits to online ticketing sites,” Richardson explained.
Led by Senator Nick Xenophon, the senate passed a motion in March which called for sweeping reforms of laws against ticket scalping, with support from the Opposition, the Greens and Senators Jacqui Lambie and Derryn Hinch. The Government, however, opposed the motion.
The LPA, which urged Canberra to ban bots in 2014, has applauded the efforts of Xenophon, who is currently drafting legislation similar to the US BOTS Act to better protect Australian concert-goers from scalpers. The lobby body wants Canberra to follow the lead of the U.S. Congress, which passed legislation in December 2016 to ban bots and, more recently, the U.K. government, which accepted a recommendation for a total ban on the software, with a new criminal provision to be introduced which would make it illegal to buy tickets in bulk using a bot.
And separately, consumer advocacy group Choice recently lodged a complaint with the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) against Ticketmaster Resale and ViaGoGo, alleging misleading and deceptive conduct.
“Fans and artists in Australia – and around the world – should expect the Australian Government to be doing its part to fight the bots and ensure that genuine fans have fairer access to tickets,’ Richardson added in the LPA’s statement.
Australia’s typically robust live performance industry posted declines in revenue (to AUS$1.41 billion or US$1.04 billion, down 6.7 per cent) and attendance (18.38 million, down 0.9 per cent) during 2015, according to the LPA’s most recent Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey, published in December 2016. The live business looked up when Adele visited the country for the first earlier this year. The British singer played to more than 600,000 people across her eight-date stadium run, which smashed attendance records at each venue.