Viagogo Fined $25M In Italy

Screenshot 2022 06 24 at 7.39.46 PM (Screenshot taken June 24, 2020)

Italy’s consumer protection authority and competition watchdog AGCOM (Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni) has fined viagogo €23.5 million ($24.8 million) for facilitating the resale of tickets above face value, which is illegal in Italy.

The authorities looked at 131 events on sale on viagogo, including Italian tour dates of Maneskin, Ludovico Einaudi, Andrea Bocelli, Placebo, Pearl Jam, Dua Lipa and others.

AGCOM claims to have found tickets for some of those events sold at prices up to six or seven times higher than the original face value price.

It also found that viagogo exercises a great degree of control and knowledge over the content. The final AGCOM report states the authorities “found evidence suggesting a direct role in buying and selling on the company’s own site.”

The law viagogo is in violation of in Italy is article 1, paragraph 545, of the law of Dec. 2016, number 232. It roughly translates, “In order to combat tax avoidance and evasion, as well as to ensure consumer protection and guarantee public order public order, the sale or any other form of placement of tickets for access to entertainment activities carried out by persons other than the holders, including on the basis of special contract or
agreement, of the systems for their issuance is punished, unless the act does not constitute a crime, with the inhibition of conduct and with administrative fines from 5,000 euros to 180,000 euros, as well as, where the conduct is carried out through the networks of electronic communication, in the manner established in paragraph 546, with the removal of the content, or, in more serious cases, with the obscuring of the Internet site through which the violation was put in place, without prejudice to actions for compensation.”

See: Australian Court Dismisses Viagogo Appeal, Ticketing Company To Pay $7M

The law also gives AGCOM the authority to carry out “the necessary investigations and interventions, acting ex officio or upon notification of the interested parties.”

The paragraph adds, “However, it is not sanctioned the sale or any other form of placement of tickets for access to entertainment activities carried out by a natural person on an occasional basis, provided that it is without a commercial purposes,” making fan-to-fan resale at face value possible.

Viagogo provided Pollstar with a statement, expressing surprise at the fine. One, because there’s doubts that the law on secondary ticketing in question is compatible with fundamental principles of EU Law on competition, and two, because viagogo had been deemed to be a “passive” intermediary platform in a previous final judgment, contradicting the findings of AGCOM.

Viagogo remains confident that the case, which has been referred to the EU, will be overruled.

The full viagogo statement: “We respect the decision of the AGCOM, however we are surprised by this fine because the Council of State has already raised “serious doubts” that the law in question on secondary ticketing – and the related fines of AGCOM, including to viagogo – are compatible with fundamental principles of EU Law on competition, free circulation of services and limitation of liability of pure intermediary platforms for illegal activity of its users. Indeed, viagogo has already been held a “passive” intermediary platform by the same Council of State in a previous final judgment, confirming that it does not sell the tickets and is not liable for the illegal sales of tickets carried out by the platform’s users. As a result, the Council of State has referred case to the Court of Justice of the European Union to decide whether the law at issue and the AGCOM fines are valid and enforceable according to such EU principles. Viagogo trusts that these pending proceedings will confirm it is not responsible for the allegations raised by the AGCOM and all fines will be annulled”.

UPDATE, June 27, 3.53 a.m.: The Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) released the following statement: “This is a substantial fine for viagogo, and a clear requirement to remove illegal listings within seven days. What is especially encouraging is the extensive investigation carried out by Italy’s financial crime enforcement agency working closely with the Italian regulator AGCOM. Legislation across Europe – at both a national and EU basis – is catching up with ticket scalping. If other enforcement authorities follow Italy’s example, the hope of a functional ticket resale market, with scalping largely relegated to the history books, could become a reality”

Subscribe to Pollstar HERE