British Columbia should ban ticket scalping bots like Ontario: NDP MLA

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Metro News Vancouver
The Tragically Hip perform.David Lipnowski/For Metro

The Tragically Hip perform.

Ontario has had enough of bots buying up concert tickets that allow scalpers to resell them for much higher prices, so why hasn’t British Columbia?

That’s what New Democratic Party MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert is asking after the Ontario government announced plans to ban the use of ticket scalping bots in that province.

“I’m really happy to hear that the Ontario government is taking action for their citizens to go after ticket scalping bots that drive up prices and gouge people who want to see concerts and sporting events,” Chandra Herbert told Metro. “I just wish we did the same in B.C.”

The issue in Ontario came to a head after thousands of fans were shut out of initial ticket sales for the Tragically Hip’s farewell tour last summer.

Tickets to those kinds of events are often bought up by scalpers using bots, and then resold to desperate fans for much higher prices.

Ontario’s Attorney General, Yasi Naqvi, said he was “bugged” by the difficulty fans had getting tickets for the iconic Canadian band’s final shows in their home province.

“I want to see what kind of solutions we can put in place,” Naqvi said. “New York and London are bigger markets than us and they’re struggling with the same thing.”

The issue has been a problem for most high-profile Vancouver events for years, including for the Hip’s farewell tour stop here and, most recently, a NBA exhibition game between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors that sold out immediately as tickets went on sale to the public.

Chandra Herbert says the practice adds nothing to the economy and leaves fans angry.

“It’s pretty frustrating for people when they see people making a ton of money just because they’ve managed to grab all of the tickets and they now have a monopoly on them,” the Vancouver-West End MLA said. “Obviously there will always be ticket reselling in one form or another, I just want to see it regulated so people don’t get hurt.”

Chandra Herbert said it’s hard for any one jurisdiction to cut out the practice, an international issue, by itself but local regulations could help venues and promoters ensure the tickets for their shows are purchased through official channels at face value.

He has written to government and tabled a private members bill to tackle the issue in the past, but hasn’t had any luck getting the B.C. Liberal government to take action.

“If we can demonstrate that other people are acting and taking action on ticket gouging and scalping of this form, it can make a difference,” he said. “If all of Canada signed up for action against unscrupulous scalping in this way, I think it would really help us stamp it out. Much more so if it’s just one jurisdiction or another.”

-with files from The Canadian Press