Next Stop, State Senate

By Alfred Branch, Jr.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives Tuesday passed a proposed bill to allow unrestricted ticket reselling throughout the state. Now called H. 4251, the bill was passed overwhelmingly by a voice vote.

Last week, the bill received unanimous support from the House Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, and it proposes to allow brokers and individuals to resell event tickets for any price, but sellers have to either be licensed or use a licensed agent. The proposed fee for licensure is $1,000 and must be accompanied by a $100,000 bond.

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Following Tuesday’s action in the House, the next step for the bill is the state Senate, but when that group will take up the proposal has not yet been determined.

The proposal calls for the creation of buffer zones around venues and stadiums where tickets cannot be resold, and allows professional sports teams to establish their own ticket exchanges for the resale of season tickets. However, teams would be prohibited from penalizing individuals or brokers for not using those exchanges.

On Monday, unrestricted ticket scalping became law in adjacent Connecticut, and in June, New York passed its own, similar legislation.

But already, wagons are being circled in Connecticut by state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to have the measure overturned. Blumenthal, who opposed the bill, believes an open ticket market will lead to fans being fleeced, and he is being bolstered by by the situation surrounding Disney’s Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus tour. Quick sellouts and high-priced resold tickets have parents and others up in arms over the practice.

Brokers, however, sing a different tune, claiming that an open ticket market creates greater competition and, ultimately, lower prices for everyone.