On the previous occasion we debated the Bill, Deputy Jan O'Sullivan expressed concern over the threat to jobs, particularly in her area. As I believe there will always be a need for resale, I do not see how there could be a threat to jobs there. Part of me liked the old system whereby one queued up for tickets and got them there and then. The abuses have come with online sales in particular. I know it is easy for me to go to a venue to buy a ticket because I live in Dublin. As the same is not true for those who do not live in Dublin, I know the value of them there.
The tickets for certain sports events, music shows and acts in Ireland can be at extortionate prices in many instances. We can see the inflated prices people have to pay here when we compare prices for venues in other European cities. In some instances it was more than double the price to attend a particular gig in Ireland than it was in other European cities. I have met people from Ireland who will go to other cities for those events because it is cheaper, even allowing for buying a plane ticket and accommodation. That can also apply to football matches.
Even though the GAA have not applied a price increase in a number of years, prices of €45 to stand on Hill 16 and €90 to sit in the stands for an All-Ireland final are a bit over the top. That is before we come to the subject we are discussing, which is touting, and which exacerbates the problem in Ireland. The underlying issue is the actual cost of tickets in Ireland at the inflated prices. The sporting bodies, artists and promoters all have a responsibility to address this. We hear about certain so-called stars and acts making really outlandish demands which lead to prices being increased. While it is not covered by the Bill, it is worth mentioning. It is part of the reason for paying more in Ireland than in other European cities. While the price can be high enough, it becomes way above and that is even before the tout gets his or her hands on the tickets.
It is infuriating when we learn that a match or a concert is sold out. I live between the 3 Arena and Croke Park and I see touts out on the streets in the vicinity of an event selling tickets at extortionate prices. We have many examples of that. If the Bill can do something about that, it is to be welcomed. The Bill seems practical, with the sensible aim of tackling touting of tickets above face value, particularly those being sold at vastly above face value. We know the extent when even reputable ticket sales companies have websites such as the much-publicised Seatwave to resell tickets at ridiculous prices. I hope the Bill will give a layer of protection for the purchaser.
I know the Bill is based on a Belgian model. As Belgium is in the EU, this is compatible with EU law. I understand it has had a positive effect in Belgium. It is not the first attempt to introduce this type of legislation. It was proposed previously, but hopefully it has a better chance now. It will be illegal for anyone engaging in an organised way to block-book tickets and resell them for profit, which is positive.
Up to now touting was a relatively small venture albeit that particular events had significant mark-ups. However, we are now seeing extortionate touting. It is no longer a small venture: it is a massive profit-making enterprise whereby the mainstream websites will sell out in seconds and the bulk of the tickets are then transferred to secondary websites, ironically in a notable case one owned by the mainstream seller. It is not small-scale resale: it is an industry that seeks to profit at the expense of those who wish to attend events. Those involved in this industry contribute nothing to the team or artist involved in or the promotion or organisation of the event.
Seatwave, which was acquired by Ticketmaster in November 2014, allows fans who missed out on sold-out gigs to purchase official tickets. That is what it claims and that sounds good. It allows fans to sell their tickets even within minutes of purchase and charges a 10% success fee on sales. Whatever about selling a ticket a few days later, a week later or a month later when one realises that an event clashes with something else, selling it minutes later would certainly raise alarm bells. An amount of 10% may sound okay, but the reality is that in some instances it has been more than 100%.
We know this is about the online sales of tickets, but we can go further with online selling which is totally unregulated. I refer to my own particular interest in animal welfare. Puppies are being sold online with false advertising in many cases. Some of the advertisements are fronts for the dog-breeding establishments - in other words, the puppy farms. That is another example of online selling with exploitation of the buyer, which is what this Bill is about. I know that has not come into it, but I just wanted to mention it.
Paying over the odds for a particular event is reprehensible. We know the pressure people can be under to source a ticket for a particular event, match or act they want to see. That is very sad when they do their best to buy a ticket in a reputable way online and then because they are all already gone, the pressure is on to pay above the odds. The Bill seeks to ensure that ticket sales will be conducted in a fair and transparent way, away from the shady industry that has grown up in respect of online sales and also the tout on the street. I hope the Bill will make it better for the genuine fan. I know in the grand scale of things other very important legislation needs to go through. However, this issue has been let slide and left to fester for far too long. Of course, the question is whether it will be effective. There are concerns that it will not be effective and that amendments will be introduced to ensure it will not make much difference. However, it is worth considering. We need to get this right to bring fairness for people who want to attend events, whether they are music gigs or sporting events.