By Alfred Branch, Jr.
By an overwhelming margin, the Minnesota Senate recently approved a bill to repeal the state’s 94-year-old anti-scalping law.
Currently, people caught scalping tickets are charged with a misdemeanor and face a fine of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail. If the measure is approved by the state House of Representatives this month, and is subsequently signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, scalpers and brokers can begin breathing easy after Aug. 1, 2007, when the repeal would become law. The House Commerce and Labor Committee approved the repeal bill after the Senate vote, and the committee sent it to the full House to be voted on perhaps as early as this week. It is expected to be approved.
According to published reports, the repeal movement gained momentum in the state within the past couple of years after the state’s professional sports teams, including the Twins and Vikings, jointly decided not to oppose a repeal. Legislators, realizing the Internet has changed the rules as it relates to ticket reselling, are backing the repeal because of the size and scope of the secondary market for tickets. The Legislature is also considering licensing for ticket brokers, which could lead to more tax revenue.
Two years ago, former Vikings head coach Mike Tice admitted to reselling Super Bowl tickets and was fined by the NFL. The embarrassment to the team perhaps helped seal Tice’s fate and contributed to his firing a year later.
Law enforcement representatives made fewer than 30 arrests under the current scalping law in 2006, according to officials.
The Senate bill’s author, Republican Sen. Chris Gerlach, told the Minnesota “Star-Tribune” newspaper that the secondary markets for baseball cards, fine art and mortgages are not regulated, so ticket reselling should not be either. He also believes that moving the practice out of the black market will ultimately benefit fans who will see lower prices for resold tickets.
With the imminent passage of the Minnesota repeal, that will leave only about a dozen states with anti-scalping laws on their books.