The purchase of sports and entertainment tickets in Ontario is controlled by the Ticket Sales Act, which came into force on July 1, 2018, to introduce transparency and protect consumers from fraudulent activity and informational discrepancies when dealing with sellers. For consumers to have access to their legally available rights and remedies, such as refunds for tickets and incidental costs, including the cost of accommodations in some situations, they must deal with recognized ticket dealers as prescribed under the Ticket Sales Act.

Consumers should be able to know whether they are dealing with a primary seller or ticket business that engages in making tickets available for sale, or a secondary seller or ticketing platform that sells tickets originally made available by primary sellers, or ticket bot software that automates ticket purchases. Depending on the context, such as the website on which tickets are being sold, sellers may be required to clearly disclose their status as ticket providers.

Whereas primary sellers are required to disclose information about the distribution of tickets and the event venue, including how many tickets are going on sale and if these will be made available in batches, consumers that buy tickets on the secondary market should ask about the money-back guarantee and for conformation from primary sellers regarding the validity of the ticket they have purchased on the resale or secondary market.

Nonetheless, according to Part III of the Ticket Sales Act, both primary and secondary sellers must be incorporated in Ontario or Canada and maintain an address in Ontario, and must follow certain rules selling valid tickets in their possession. During the sale of tickets, businesses in Ontario are required to provide the face value and price of the ticket and any service fees or taxes, the type of currency if it is not Canadian, and the seat location.

If a ticket business contravenes the Ticket Sales Act and a ticket purchaser has suffered a loss as a result, a court may order restitution for any consideration given, award damages in the amount of any losses suffered, grant an injunction restraining the person from contravening the provisions of the Act, or order specific performance. For exemplary or punitive damages, however, the question becomes whether the ticket seller took reasonable precautions to avoid contravening the Act. Individuals that are convicted for an offence under the Ticket Sales Act are liable for $50,000 in fines and imprisonment under two years, and corporations that are convicted are liable to a fine of not more than $250,000.

Conversely, ticket bots are often designed to work around control and security measures on electronic applications, and their complication of the ticket buying process has led to their ban in Ontario by the provincial government. Any active ticket bots must be reported to the police, due to the criminal nature of the activity and the fact that no specific body is responsible for enforcing the Ticket Sales Act in Ontario, and the offense could lead to imprisonment and a significant fine for individuals or corporations.

The purchase of tickets from unregistered third parties or any person that is reselling their ticket, commonly known as scalpers, carries with it dangers about the authenticity of the ticket, the advertised description, the inflated price point, and its refund options. In the event that tickets are purchased from a third party scalper, consumers may have the same rights against sellers as they would otherwise within the limitations of the Ticket Sales Act.

Consumers should thus confirm the status of the selling party and learn about the legitimacy of tickets before making their purchase, in order to partake in a fair transaction with enforceable rights.

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