In the state of Massachusetts, like many states before it, ticket resale laws have been a combative political issue, but with many states lifting the regulations on reselling tickets, the Bay State may be the next in line. But, a controversy has erupted over some of the behind-the-scenes moves designed to assure passage of a repeal bill.
In November, Democratic state Rep. Michael Rodrigues proposed a bill that would allow for licensed individuals to resell tickets without regulating price as long as the seller offers full guarantees to the consumer.
The bill was able to easily pass through the state House of Representatives, but according to a recent story in The Boston Globe, a group of professional ticket brokers hired Richard Vitale to help pass the proposed bill. Vitale, the personal accountant and former treasurer for Speaker of the House Salvatore DiMasi, reportedly told the brokers that he could “do things a registered lobbyist couldn’t do – behind the scenes.”
The controversy arose stemming from the money that was given to Vitale for his efforts may have violated the law as he is not a registered lobbyist. According to a report on the New England Cable Network, the Massachusetts Republican Party has called for the state’s attorney general to investigate DiMasi and his relationship with Vitale.
Ace Ticket president and founder, James Holzman was reportedly at the forefront of the push to hire Vitale and his company stands to benefit a great deal. Holzman could not be reached for comment, but told TicketNews following a Massachusetts Judge’s ruling to uphold the states anti scalping law that he hoped the ruling would be “a catalyst for immediate change.”
“It’s set up a potential scenario where without changes to the current laws, brokers may be forced to leave the state, taking jobs with them,” Holzman added. “And, the bottom line is that if consumers didn’t want this industry, they wouldn’t support it.”
The current law puts a cap on the amount a ticket can be sold for which prohibits anyone in the Commonwealth from selling, “any ticket or other evidence of right of entry to any theatrical exhibition, public show or public amusement or exhibition of any description at a price in excess of two dollars in advance of the price printed on the face of such ticket.”
Rodrigues could not be reached by TicketNews, but told The Boston Globe, “We don’t have price controls on any other commodity, not even drugs, yet we try to enforce them on the resale of tickets. It doesn’t make any sense and it doesn’t work.”
The bill is currently sitting in the State Senate and is awaiting approval. Although nothing appears imminent, Massachusetts is only one of a select few states which still have anti-scalping laws in place. With high ticket demand needs of teams like the Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots, a decision by the Massachusetts Government may prove to be a turning point for the secondary ticket market.