The best way to curb ticket scalping

September 07, 2018 11:38
Hong Kong authorities are facing growing calls to come up with further measures to curb ticket scalping activities during major entertainment events. Photos: HKEJ, Internet

Concerts of superstar singers are almost always fully booked. That has resulted in rampant "queuing gangs" and "ticket scalping gangs”.

Recently, a mainlander was hurt in a knife attack at a counter queue after he had lined up to get tickets for a concert of Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau Tak-wah.

As a result, ticket sales were suspended at the box office and switched to online and telephone bookings.

But I don't think that such measures will be able to resolve the issue of rampant ticket scalping in the city. Concert organizers apparently have not learned the lesson from the exorbitant reselling ticket prices of comedy shows held earlier by local comedian Dayo Wong Tze-Wah.

As a matter of fact, scalpers often use computer programs to snap up large number of tickets online. They would use a number of different credit cards to bypass restrictions that each account can only buy up to four tickets. This makes it very difficult for genuine fans to get tickets, and they end up having no choice but to buy from the scalpers.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has suggested that it is confident it will be to thwart the computer program-based ticket scalping activities. Efforts will be made to expand the capacity of the Urbtix ticket booking system to make it easier for citizens to get tickets.

But the scalping gangs can always use different kinds of computer programs or hire more people to snap up tickets, even if Urbtix expands the capacity of its online ticket selling system.

If you ask me, the most effective way to crack down on the scalping gangs is to encourage organizers of mega events to sell their tickets by way of "real-name registration", under which ticket purchasers are required to provide the names of the attendees for printing on the tickets at the time of ticket purchase.

Ticket holders whose names are different from those shown on the tickets can be denied entry to the show. That would basically kill the ticket reselling market.

The real-name registration system has already been adopted elsewhere. Now, it is time for the Hong Kong government to act.

Authorities should put in place new legislation as soon as possible if they want real progress on the curbing ticket scalping.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 6

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Information Technology Federation honorary chairman