Viagogo will have to start paying the fines received over the last four years from the Italian authorities for violating anti-touting rules. The total disputes are currently around 40 million euros. Today the ruling of the Council of State was published.
The judges were right with the Communications Regulatory Authority – Agcom – asking the Swiss company to pay the first of the fines received. That of 2020. The ruling is clear: Viagogo will have to pay to the Italian State 3.7 million. But, sources close to the investigation explain to our newspaper, this will have a cascade effect on other fines issued by Agcom to stem the phenomenon of digital touting, also known as Secondary Ticketing.
In addition to the first, the subject of the sentence, Agcom established three other fines for Viagogo: one for 2021, equal to 750 thousand euros (smaller due to the effect of the pandemic, which canceled many concerts); another in 2022 for 23.580 million; the latest, in 2023, amounting to 12.24 million. The total is 40.270 million.
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Viagogo is a company that resells event and concert tickets online, which first appeared on the official channels (Ticketmaster, Ticketone and Vivaticket). It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It had come under the scrutiny of the Authority after the explosion of a phenomenon that has become a constant in recent years: tickets for major events put online ended up in record time, only to reappear elsewhere at increased prices. And that elsewhere was often Viagogo.
Over time, Secondary Ticketing becomes a plague on large events. Tickets disappeared in a short time, skyrocketing prices, angry fans. In Italy it has become a constant, especially for highly anticipated events such as large concerts (the best known is the case of tickets for Coldplay concerts). Last June, for example, Agcom and the Guardia di Finanza, at the end of a supervisory activity, had identified 26 people who had resold 15 thousand tickets for 278 concerts scheduled in Italy between 2022 and 2023. One of the pieces of a phenomenon huge. The 26 allegedly obtained an illegal profit of over 2 and a half million euros.
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Over the years, the Authority has decided that it wants to see things clearly. And the investigations reveal the co-responsibility of the platform from time to time. Viagogo is fined, but promptly contests the fines. The Council of State today instead recognized the formal correctness of the objections made by Agcom. And that is that the fact that it is based in Switzerland does not exclude its liability in Italy and that the platform is an “active hosting provider”. In practice, by allowing the resale at a higher price of tickets purchased in bulk through software or organized groups, it is an active part in the crime. Therefore he must pay the fine because at least he is co-responsible.
What happens now? “It is more than certain that the State will be able to request the payment of the sanctions, as it is a consequence that this decision will be applied in cascade on all the other sanctions imposed by Agcom and currently suspended by the Lazio Regional Administrative Court”, explains Davide Mula to our newspaper , professor of new technology law at the European University of Rome, among the leading experts in the sector. What’s left for Viagogo to do now? “Pay, or try an unlikely appeal to the Court of Cassation. However, I don’t think the elements are there after the ruling of the Council of State. Of course, anything can happen, but it’s unlikely”, adds Mula. Everything suggests that the company will have to prepare for the payment . Like all sanctions, via F24.