With the AFL Grand Final fast approaching, footy fans are scrambling to find a ticket for Saturday’s game. Although some may be prepared to pay inflated prices to watch their beloved team play in the final, they may be turned away at the gate as a result of purchasing an illegitimate ticket through a ticket scalper. Below, we discuss how the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and various state laws assist in the regulation of the sale and distribution of tickets to particular sports events.
The Impact of Ticket Onselling
Consumers accept significant risk when purchasing a ticket from an unauthorised seller, including paying a much higher price for the ticket. Purchasers also forfeit a number of protections they would otherwise receive such as receipt of a refund if the organisers cancel the event. Further, consumers may inadvertently purchase a counterfeit ticket and only realise when turned away at the gate.
Technology also has heralded new challenges to monitoring ticket scalping. Ticket distribution is no longer restricted to authorised ticket agents, such as Ticketek or Ticketmaster. Rather, online marketplaces such as eBay and Gumtree host advertisements for resale tickets.
The Australian Consumer Law
If someone represents him or herself as an authorised ticket seller, this could give rise to a breach of the ACL – namely sections 29 and 18 which prohibit, respectively:
- Persons making false or misleading representations in connection with the supply of goods and services; and
- Engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct.
Major Sporting Events Act 2009
In addition to the ACL, some states and territories have specific laws relating to ticket resale. For example, the Major Sporting Events Act 2009 (Vic) which regulates events such as AFL Grand Final. The Act strictly regulates ticket-sales in relation to “declared events”. Only the Minister can make a sporting ticket event declaration which is then declared in the Government Gazette. The 2016 AFL was declared as a sports event in the 25 Feb 2016 Gazette.
Sections 166 and 166A of Act provides that it is an offence:
- To sell event tickets contrary to the ticket conditions;
- To sell five or less tickets above face value; and
- To advertise for sale five or less tickets above face value.
Also, each AFL Grand Final ticket includes the following condition:
“This ticket is sold or distributed on condition that it not be resold or offered for resale at a premium or be used for advertising, promotions, competitions or other commercial purposes without the AFL’s written authorisation.”
So on-selling, distributing or offering for resale tickets to the Grand Final without the AFL’s authorisation constitutes a breach of the Act and may result in your ticket being cancelled. Penalties will apply to individuals and organisations reselling tickets. Individuals scalping tickets can face fines up to $9,300 (60 penalty units) while organisations selling unauthorised tickets can face fines of up to $46,500 (300 penalty units).
Importantly, not all sporting events are “declared events” and since the legislation’s commencement in 2009, the only events declared as sports ticketing events are:
- AFL Grand Final;
- ICC World Cup;
- Presidents Cup; and
- FINA Swimming Championships.
Tips for Buying On-Sold Tickets
- Check the terms and conditions regarding on-selling tickets.
- Be cautious of online barcodes or print-at-home tickets as they may be sold multiple times.
- Paying with a credit card or PayPal account may provide you with options of seeking a refund for purchasing a fraudulent ticket from your card provider or by contacting the PayPal Resolution Centre.
To avoid disappointment, you should err on the side of caution and only purchase your tickets from authorised sellers. Buying from scalpers could see you forfeit your rights under the ACL while scalping tickets could result in hefty fines. If you have any questions, get in touch with our consumer lawyers on 1300 544 755. Game On, Swans!