By Alfred Branch, Jr.
A proposed bill that calls for repealing the state’s ticket scalping law is winding its way through the Connecticut General Assembly and could be voted on before the June close of the current legislative session. Tuesday, the assembly’s 19-member General Law Committee, which has jurisdiction over the matter, is slated to vote on the proposal, and a favorable vote would send it onto the full assembly.
Presently, Connecticut does not allow for the resale of tickets for more than $3 above face value, unless a broker or agent receives written authorization to resell tickets from the event venue at a greater price. Violation of the law is a Class C misdemeanor with up to three month in jail and a fine of $500 or less.
The proposed bill, #5972, repeals that law but stiffens the punishment for selling counterfeit tickets to a Class D felony, which carries a sentence of one to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. It also calls for brokers to refund the purchaser’s money, including service fees and delivery charges, when an event is cancelled or if for some reason the ticket does not allow entry into the event. Finally, the proposed law requires scalpers to resell tickets at least 1,500 feet away from the venue holding the event.
Connecticut is the latest in a series of states that are considering repealing their anti-scalping laws, or have already done so. New York and Minnesota are in the midst of reviewing the matter.
The impetus for the reversals is a need to reflect the current marketplace for tickets, which includes significant and increasing numbers of Internet sales that states cannot govern.
The proposed Connecticut repeal has widespread support among Republicans and Democrats on the committee and in the full assembly, and if passed it would take effect October 1. At a public hearing last month, Nick Eve, vice president of TicketNetwork Direct, said that repealing the law would open up the market in Connecticut, which would benefit residents. He estimates the overall secondary market for tickets is $10 billion annually in the U.S.
“We believe an open market would cause more tickets to be held by Connecticut ticket resellers, rather than the situation which exists now, where resale is largely handled by out-of-state sellers,” Eve said.
But the repeal movement also has its opposition. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the General Assembly should consider strengthening the current scalping law, not repeal it, because loopholes exist that allow companies outside of the state to resell tickets above face value.