The government will review the existing law and make necessary revisions in response to growing calls from the public to combat ticket scalping activities at performance venues, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told the Legislative Council on Wednesday.
The promise came as many people in Hong Kong have been criticizing the administration for not doing enough to deter scalpers, given the rising number of cases where some groups buy a large number of tickets to popular entertainment shows in advance and then resell them at inflated prices.
There have been reports that ticket scalping syndicates have been hiring large numbers of people to queue up overnight at various ticket selling points for buying tickets for scalping.
Last month, several men, suspected to be members of a ticket scalping gang, assaulted a group of mainland students who queued up at an outlet to buy tickets for concerts to be held by Taiwan rock band Mayday at the Hong Kong Disneyland in May, after accusing them of taking their spots.
During a Legco question & answer on Wednesday, lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok, who represents the sports, performing arts, culture and publication functional constituency, asked Lam if the government will consider revising the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance, which currently prevents organizers of events held at the venues managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) from openly selling more than 20 percent of the tickets to the public.
Lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun also pointed out that the current rules on banning ticketing scalping, where were stipulated as early as in 1950, have been outdated, urging the government to make revisions as soon as possible, including aggravating the penalties, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Saying that she is aware that the scalping problem has become more serious and sparking public concerns, Lam promised in her response that the LCSD will review the ordinance to see if it can be applied to its venues, such as Hong Kong Coliseum and Queen Elizabeth Stadium.
The LCSD will also consider imposing more serious penalties for those who violate the ordinance as well as making scalping a criminal offense, she said.
Lau Kong-wah, head of Home Affairs Bureau, the parent body of the LCSD, told lawmakers that the bureau will seek opinions of the Department of Justice and law enforcement authorities for the purpose of revisions.
Admitting that it is probably too much to reserve 80 percent of tickets to events at the government venues for sponsors’ consignment or for priority booking, Lau promised to study the feasibility of lowering the ratio.
Commenting on the issue, Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau Tak-wah, who is planning to hold a New Year’s Eve concert at the end of this year, said he supports the government’s efforts and that he hopes to see the ticketing systems in the city operate better to serve the public more effectively.
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