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Is ticket scalping legal in Canada?

Many people across Canada have heard about the dustup that occurred over the Tragically Hip’s final concert tickets in the spring of 2016. The calamity ensued because scalpers were buying presale tickets en masse and reselling them at higher costs and quite a few fans were unable to secure tickets as a consequence.

That opened up the question whether this was even legal.

Turns out, in Ontario it is not illegal to resell tickets as long as the reseller observes a few conditions.

What does the law in Canada say about ticket scalping?

Provincial law regulates the selling, and sometimes reselling, of concert and sports tickets.

As has been mentioned, in Ontario ticket scalping has been legalized under certain conditions.

In Ontario, under the Ticket Sales Act (2017), a reseller is allowed to sell tickets, which have been marked up from the original price, as long as:

  • They are validated by the original seller, for example Ticketmaster, which provides confirmation to the buyer that the ticket is valid; and
  • The reseller gives a money back guarantee to the buyer if the event is cancelled, or the ticket is fraudulent.

The Act also included a provision that the price markup was limited to 50 per cent of the ticket's face value, but that provision was suspended by the Ontario government on July 3, 2018.

In Alberta, the scalping of tickets seems to be legal as the act that forbade the reselling of tickets, the Amusement Act, was repealed in 2009 and hasn’t been replaced as of now. Apparently, the act was just too difficult to enforce. However, Alberta is planning to ban rapid ticket-buying 'bot' software, which buys masses of tickets at a time, sometime in 2018.

Similarly, in British Columbia there also is no statute forbidding the reselling of tickets, which allows the scalping of tickets to go on.

In Saskatchewan the situation is quite different from the other provinces. Saskatchewan enacted its Ticket Sales Act in 2011. The act forbids official ticket seller merchants to yank up prices for tickets at affiliated websites and also prohibits the use of ticket bots.

The act also says that people in Saskatchewan are to get first pick at tickets in the form of a one-hour access advantage to tickets once they go on sale, and that resellers are not allowed to offer tickets until 48 hours after ticket release. However, the fact that tickets are allowed to be resold, just not by official merchants, means a resale is delayed not prevented.

Manitoba also has legislation forbidding the reselling of tickets for higher amounts.

Quebec is another province which has enacted legislation, in Quebec`s case Bill 25, that makes it illegal to resell tickets at a higher price than the one authorized by the show or event producer. Resellers may sell tickets at a higher price if the show or event producer allows it. The resller must refund the purchase price if

  • The show is cancelled
  • The ticket does not grant the purchaser admission to the show or
  • The ticket is counterfeit.

To verify whether the resale of tickets is legal in your own province or territory you need to examine the applicable act for your region.

It should be noted that though in some provinces it is legal, in some provinces it’s legal with conditions, and in some provinces it is illegal to resell tickets at a higher value, the law can, and sometimes does, change when it comes to the reselling of tickets.

As most ticket resale regulations have been enacted recently or deregulated recently it’s important to make sure to check the up-to-date legislation in your province or territory to find out whether the resale of tickets is legal or not.

Read more:

Scalping boom as NHL playoffs begin, but is it legal?

Changes in Ticket Speculation Act allows for legal ticket scalping in Ontario

New scalping laws may not protect consumers, critics warn

Price cap on Ontario ticket sales delayed

Alberta plans to target ticket-buying bots

Quebec ticket resales