23 March 2019
The Home Affairs Bureau wants the law against ticket scalping to also cover government venues such as the Hong Kong Coliseum. Photo: HKEJ
The Home Affairs Bureau wants the law against ticket scalping to also cover government venues such as the Hong Kong Coliseum. Photo: HKEJ

Govt proposes three measures to combat rampant ticket scalping

The government has proposed three measures to combat ticket scalping, which has been on the rise in recent years, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The proposals against ticket scalpers, who resell tickets for concerts and other popular entertainment shows at inflated prices, are contained in a paper submitted by the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) to the Legislative Council on Tuesday.

These include amending the Public Entertainment Ordinance, which only bans scalping at private venues with entertainment licenses.

The HAB wants the law to also cover government venues, such as Hong Kong Coliseum and Queen Elizabeth Stadium, two of the most popular performance venues in the city which are managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD).

Authorities also want to adjust the ratio between the number of consigned tickets for a performance and those for public sale.

Organizers are currently required by the LCSD to offer at least 20 percent of the total number of seats for open sale.

For example, Hong Kong Coliseum can reserve as many as 9,600 of its 12,000 seats for consigned tickets under the current practice.

The HAB said there is room to bring down the ratio in case of performances at Hong Kong Coliseum and Queen Elizabeth Stadium, although the adjustment should be done gradually while allowing for more flexible terms in the organizer’s contract.

Third, the bureau proposes the adoption of a personalized ticketing system to ensure that those who buy tickets are the ones who are going to watch the show.

The HAB is asking people involved in such shows to submit their ideas on the matter to the Smart Government Innovation Lab, which is scheduled to begin operations in April next year.

They could propose how to use technology to facilitate admission to performance venues while ensuring that the privacy of the consumers is protected.

The LCSD is not inclined to oblige event organizers to adopt such a system and wants them to have the freedom to choose.

According to the document, the government is also studying a more appropriate way – in terms of legality and law enforcement – to deal with those reselling tickets for a profit. It said any regulation will not cover ticket sales on offshore websites.

Legco’s Panel on Home Affairs is scheduled to hold a meeting next Monday to discuss the proposals, although so far neither the pro-establishment camp nor the pan-democrats have expressed support for the proposals.

Democratic Party lawmaker Au Nok-hin, who is deputy chairman of the home affairs panel, said he suspects the administration does not want to make the performance sector happy because it is unwilling to lower the ticket consignment ratio significantly in one go.

A scalper told a TV program in an interview that the government will not succeed in legislating a crackdown on ticket scalping, and, as such, scalpers will continue with their lucrative business.

In a statement submitted to Legco on Tuesday, the Performing Industry Association (Hong Kong) voiced its objection to the proposal of lowering the consignment ratio, saying doing so will not be effective at all in reducing scalping activities. It also said a personalized ticketing system is infeasible.

The association said the real problem is that ticket scalping is not considered a criminal offense and the current punishment for such activities is too light. There is no effective deterrence, it added.

The group said the current ordinance on ticket scalping should be amended as soon as possible and public education should be enhanced.

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