The Ombudsman has proposed a ban on touting, saying the booking system for public sports facilities is being abused.
In an investigation report, Alan Lai Nin said the system is being exploited by touts who book several venues at the same time, then sell the slots at a higher price to users.
Currently, sports facilities managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will be given to others on the waiting list if subscribers fail to turn up after 10 minutes.
The watchdog said touts exploit this loophole and sell the slots to buyers on the understanding that those who booked the facilities will not show up.
Lai said his office handled more than 50 complaints relating to sports facilities offered by the department - mostly about booking and use - over the past two years.
Touts generally sell the slots for football pitches, badminton and tennis courts on online chat rooms and forums. Prices for pitches in urban areas, such as Morse Park in Wong Tai Sin and Kowloon Tsai Park, range from HK$300 to HK$500, while the normal booking fee is less than HK$200.
The report said "touting is one of the most widely criticized phenomena" that makes it difficult for the public to book facilities.
In addition, it is regarded as improper behavior because the touts "are profiteering with public resources."
The Ombudsman said no-shows accounted for 37percent of all sessions booked by individuals for the artificial football pitches from July to September 2011, and of these no-show sessions, 87percent were taken up by "standby users." The figures, Lai said, suggest the current arrangements provide an easy opportunity for the touting business.
What normally happens is that a tout books a sports facility, then sells the slot to someone else at a higher price beforehand.
Other tactics include the tout signing in at a venue, but leaving shortly after ensuring the arrival of a new buyer.
Lai criticized department staff for failing to act proactively to curb touts.
"There are numerous news items and information about touting, and it is very easy for us to access that information," Lai said.
"We have therefore reminded department staff that they should study carefully what they can do and act more proactively to resolve the problem."
The Ombudsman suggested that if an unauthorized transfer of slots is found, the department should take measures such as suspend the eligibility of hirers to make any further bookings.
Responding to the report, the department said it has proposed implementing new measures over the next two years.
These include shortening the advance booking period from 30 days to 10.