Ticket Touting at Sporting Events (excluding football)

What legislation is there in place to deal with ticket touting for general sports fixtures?

Football Fixtures

There is specific legislation which has been put in place to deal with the unauthorised selling of tickets for football matches by the following statutes:

  • The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

  • The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006

The London 2012 Olympic Games

There has been specific legislation put in place to deal with the unauthorised selling of tickets for the London 2012 Olympic Games by the following statute:

  • The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006

Football is the most popular sport for our nation and clearly the 2012 Olympics is the biggest event to be happening to England in the near future but touting is not an activity which is strictly limited to football or the Olympics. There is still a significant black market associated with tickets for international rugby matches and cricket matches such as the Ashes.

The following pieces of legislation can be used to combat the touting of tickets at general sporting matches:

  • The Fraud Act 2006

  • The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

The Fraud Act 2006

The introduction of the Fraud Act replaced the deception offences seen previously under the Theft Act 1986 by introducing a number of dishonesty offences.

Application to ticket touting

Section 2 of the Fraud Act creates an offence of fraud by false representation which is the most clear provision which can be applied to ticket touting.

The following needs to be proven to establish fraud by false representation:

  • The tout needs to make a representation that he is authorised to sell the tickets

  • The tout must know that the representation is or might be false

  • The tout must do this with a view to making a financial gain and/or exposing the buyer to the risk of a loss

Does this apply to transactions over the internet?

Fraud by false misrepresentation applies to transactions over the internet as they are specifically brought within the remit by Section 2(4) and (5).

Sentencing

What will be likely sentencing be under the Fraud Act?

If a tout is found guilty of fraud by false representation then he will be liable to 12 months imprisonment and / or a fine on summary conviction.

Even the case passes to a trial then a tout convicted of fraud by false representation could be handed down a maximum sentence of 10 years and / or a fine.

This is much more stringent than the penalties handed down by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act meaning that the Fraud Act may be much more of a deterrent to a tout. On this basis it is also possible that a tout selling tickets for football matches may be convicted under the Fraud Act as well as the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act and be sentenced to prison.

Problems with the Fraud Act

Compared to legislation such as Section 166 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act the Fraud Act has not been enacted specifically to deal with touting at sporting fixtures. Consequently it is often harder to convict a tout of fraud by misrepresentation as all the above criteria needs to be met. This may cause significant problems as you have to prove that the tout was dishonest in their actions and that the tout new that statements that he made about the tickets were untrue or misleading.

Dishonesty

In order to prove dishonesty two elements need to be present:

  1. An objective test – that various members of the general public would view the conduct as dishonest

  2. A subjective test – that the tout new his conduct to be dishonest

Untrue or misleading statements

If the tout makes a representation to an individual that a ticket is valid then this may immediately be seen as an untrue statement. The terms and conditions of the ticket will say that tickets bought from unauthorised sources are invalid. The tout will be aware of this so a representation that the ticket is valid would be seen as untrue.

Tests such as this are not required under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act or the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act.

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

The money laundering legislation contained with the Proceeds of Crime Act is applicable to any crime meaning that for it to come into play there must have been an initial crime such as fraud by representation under the Fraud Act.

For a conviction under the Proceeds of Crime Act the following will need to be established:

  • That an individual tout deals with the profits from the illegal sale of tickets

  • That an individual tout knows or suspects that the profits were gained through criminal conduct

This legislation is used specifically to target touts who work together as a ring of touts and who share their profits etc. If a tout only takes the money for his own personal gain and the proceeds are minimal then this will not caught under the money laundering legislation.

Sentencing

For someone convicted under the money laundering legislation they will be liable to a six months imprisonment and a fine of up to £5,000.

This legislation may not apply directly to sport but there is a greater willingness by the Government to use it in that context to crack down on the unauthorised selling of tickets to sporting matches.