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NJ ticket reform bill approved by Senate committee

NJ ticket reform bill approved by Senate committee

By Jean Henegan

New Jersey took a step toward restructuring its state ticketing laws on October 16, 2012, when the New Jersey Senate Commerce Committee passed Senate Bill 875 with a vote of 5-1.

Under the terms of the bill, New Jersey's ticketing law would be modified in several ways. First, the bill would end the restrictive practices surrounding paperless ticketing. One of the hottest issues in the realm of ticket sales, paperless ticketing has been making headlines as fans around the world have been speaking out against the practice. Under many paperless ticketing policies, in order to pick up purchased tickets at the venue, the buyer must be present and present the credit card used to make the purchase. This can cause havoc when tickets were purchased as gifts, especially when the purchaser does not live near the site of the event.

The proposed New Jersey bill would enact a law that allowed for the trading, gifting, or resale of tickets to any event within the state. With regard to paperless ticketing, the purchaser would have the legal right to designate the tickets to anyone he or she so chooses.

The bill would also move to ban ticketing "bots" from being used within the state. New Jersey has dealt with the "bot" issue a great deal in the past year, particularly with the January 2012 onsales for Bruce Springsteen's New Jersey concert dates. The onsales saw tickets disappear in a flash and the entire Ticketmaster system freeze as suspected bots purchased great deals of tickets. In response to this incident, New Jersey's U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell introduced a bill, dubbed The BOSS Act, aimed at banning bots on a national level into the U.S. Congress. New Jersey Senate Bill 875 would do the same.

Finally, the bill would increase ticketing transparency throughout the state. It would require primary sellers to include information on event advertisements, including the price of the tickets, the surcharge, and how many tickets will be on sale for each price bracket. It would also require that primary sellers not syphon off tickets to secondary sites and bypass the initial onsales.

The reasoning behind the bill, according to its sponsor Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, is to protect the consumer. "While regular New Jerseyans are hitting refresh on their browsers trying to score hot-item tickets, unscrupulous brokers are using computer software and technology to jump to the head of the line and get around set purchasing limits. By outlawing these practices, we can level the playing field for all consumers to purchase tickets," said Senator Lesniak in a press release.

Those found in violation of the proposed bill would be liable for fines up to $10,000.00 for a first offense and up to $20,000.00 for each additional offense. Next up, the bill will head to the State Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

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