WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government introduced a bill Monday that would end a long-standing but hard to enforce ban on reselling tickets to sports and entertainment events at higher prices.
The current ban has not prevented ticket prices from soaring because much of the reselling is conducted outside Manitoba and beyond the reach of provincial law, said James Teitsma, minister for consumer protection.
"A lot of the reselling is happening in these grey markets, (by) third parties, things that are out of province, out of country," Teitsma said.
"I don't want to put the Manitoba resellers at any kind of disadvantage. So if a third-party reseller in another country is able to sell those tickets, then I want those Manitoba-based ones to be able to sell those same tickets."
Teitsma pointed to the company that owns the National Hockey League Winnipeg Jets as an example of a local firm that has followed the law. The Jets host an online ticket exchange that forbids ticket-holders from reselling above face value.
But other online sellers were offering some Jets tickets Monday for an upcoming game at more than $450 — almost double face value.
Similarly, online resale tickets for a Bruce Springsteen concert in Winnipeg slated for November were going for as much as $3,400
Teitsma promised new rules will be introduced, following public consultations, to try to protect ticket buyers.
The new rules could forbid the use of automated software that allows resellers to quickly snap up hundreds of tickets to an event, he said, or ban resellers from advertising tickets they have not yet obtained.
British Columbia enacted similar measures in 2021. The Ticket Sales Act also sets rules for refunds and provides a right for buyers to sue resellers for losses or damages.
The Opposition New Democrats said the Progressive Conservative government seems to be throwing in the towel by eliminating the ban on resale at higher prices.
"It's going to clear the way for markups on concert ticket sales to go up and up and up," NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.
Kinew did not say what his party would do specifically to clamp down on ticket resellers from out of province.
"A future NDP government would set to work to come up with real solutions to ensure that we get a handle on ticket prices in Manitoba."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 13, 2023
Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press