Ontario’s new government has “paused” the implementation of the centrepiece of its predecessors’ anti-ticket-scalping legislation, holding off from enforcing a price cap on resold tickets of 150-per-cent of face value.
The former Liberal government introduced the rule, which came into force just last week, as part of a series of major ticket-law changes intended to increase consumer protection. But arguing that because there was “no way to enforce that cap,” the new Progressive Conservative government is now suggesting that such a strategy would actually result in diminished consumer protections. Government spokesperson Simon Jefferies said in a statement Wednesday that it would not enforce that portion of the new law “until we can review this provision in full to make sure it is in the best interest of Ontarians.”
Signs that the caps would not be a coup for consumers began emerging in recent days as the revised Ticket Sales Act came into force. StubHub, a market leader in resale in the province, had been putting the onus on consumers listing the tickets for sale to abide by the law, rather than implement a more complicated software-based restriction based on the original price.
Vividseats, another popular resale marketplace, had effectively given up on the province, giving Ontario consumers the following notice instead of allowing purchases: “Recently, policy makers passed the Ticket Sales Act of 2017 which regulates resale ticket marketplaces and limits the ability of fans to buy and sell tickets.”
The price cap became law in December, alongside other consumer-focused ticketing rules, after nearly a year of public discussion. Ticket vendors and marketplaces such as Ticketmaster and StubHub have been supportive of numerous parts of the legislation, such as making rapid-ticket-buying “bot” software illegal, but have long expressed frustration that the price caps would be hard for them to enforce.
Former attorney-general Yasir Naqvi told The Globe and Mail last year that Ticketmaster and StubHub accounted for 80 per cent of Ontario’s ticketing market. Ticketmaster’s Canadian chief operating officer, Patti-Anne Tarlton, called the new government’s move a “rational and prudent” decision. “This pause will allow them time to effectively evaluate the anticipated impact of this component of the bill and whether it will have the intended consumer protection the government and industry strive for,” she said in an e-mailed statement.
In an e-mail, a StubHub spokesperson said that the company is pleased “that the recently-elected Ontario government has taken appropriate steps to ensure ticket transactions continue to occur on platforms that provide vital consumer protections for fans of live events.”