ConnecticutBy Alfred Branch, Jr.

Ticket scalping will finally be legal in Connecticut beginning on Oct. 1.

Gov. Jodi Rell signed the repeal bill earlier today. Both the state Senate and House of Representatives last month unanimously passed the repeal bill, just hours before the legislative session adjourned for the summer. Due to the overwhelming support the bill received in the General Assembly, and with fellow Republican Rep. Leonard Greene as the bill’s sponsor, all indications were that Rell would endorse the measure.

“It’s about time,” said an elated Rod Cardwell, owner of Hartford, CT-based TicketWorld. “This is obviously great for the residents of the state who will be able to legally buy tickets from brokers in the state, instead of having to go to some company or website out of the state and pay more money.” . . .

TicketWorld operated a second location out of nearby Springfield, MA, where it would send Connecticut residents to buy tickets, but with the law going into effect in the fall, Cardwell said he will close the Springfield office — saving money in the process — and consolidate everything out of Hartford. This is a win-win, he said, because consumers will see that savings reflected in the company’s prices, and the state gains a couple of more workers who had been out of state.

“This will be great for the consumer,” Cardwell said.

Greene said that he hadn’t heard any backlash about the bill after the legislature unanimously approved it. “We’re pretty excited about it. We’ve been working for years on getting it passed.”

Connecticut is the latest state to give up the fight against scalping, mainly due to the futile nature of trying to enforce such laws in the face of the burgeoning Internet-based ticket resale market. In some states where scalping is legal, such as Florida, Greene said, ticket prices have dropped because the market has more inventory for sale not only from brokers but also the public.

Last month, neighboring New York state also repealed its scalping law, a bill which vocal support by N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Connecticut’s old scalping law prohibited the resale of tickets for more than $3 above face value, and only brokers or agents that received written authorization from the event venue could resell a ticket above that price. Under the new bill, there are no restrictions on how much someone can resell a ticket, but the law strengthens the punishment for the sale of counterfeit tickets. In addition, the bill 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. And finally, the bill gives venues a buffer zone of 1,500 feet, which means that scalpers must stay at least that distance away from a venue when reselling tickets.

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“I fully believe in the fair market system and that government should stay out of it,” Greene said. “Once politicians stick our nose in things, we get them messed up.”

At a public hearing earlier this year, Ticketmaster and Connecticut’s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal posed the only opposition to the bill, but Ticketmaster, which has stepped up its own ticket resale efforts in recent months, changed its tune. Blumenthal opposed the bill because he believed scalping would unfairly inflate ticket prices.

“We’ll see how it works. The Internet has become such a monster in this industry, but Connecticut businesses weren’t seeing any revenues from it,” Greene said.

According to officials, the bill reached Rell’s desk a couple of weeks ago, after legislative lawyers polished some of the wording.