In an atmosphere of increasing controversy and litigation surrounding the ticket resale industry, the Alabama legislature is considering a bill that would ease ticket resale laws in the state by repealing a licensing requirement, in addition to other changes.
Originally introduced by Republican Rep. Cam Ward, the proposed bill, labeled HB71, makes four changes to existing law. The proposal allows for the resale of event tickets at a price higher than the original price, and it repeals a code section that has required resellers to pay a license tax on such transactions, thus eliminating the need for resellers to buy licenses for their activities. All tickets in resale would be required to have the original price printed on them, and finally, a conviction for selling counterfeit tickets would now be known as third degree forgery, a Class A misdemeanor.
The bill has passed the Alabama House and, with Democratic Sen. Bobby Singleton as a co-sponsor, it has made it through a Senate committee. Rep. Ward told TicketNews that he feels good about the bill’s chances in the Senate later this week: “There are two days left in the session and I’m confident that we could see this passed by late Thursday.”
These proposed changes come in the context of a number of state governments taking aim at what are considered to be improper practices by primary and secondary ticket sellers. When Miley Cyrus kicked off her first tour in late 2007, there was a supply and demand ticketing snafu of epic proportions. Early this year, New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram took TicketMaster to task over having allegedly redirected Bruce Springsteen fans to its premium-priced resale site, TicketsNow.com, when the main site’s tickets for his Izod Center shows sold out. TicketMaster settled with the AG’s office in February, offering a random drawing for 1,000 disgruntled fans to buy two tickets each to Bruce Springsteen’s show, and TicketMaster gift certificates for those who failed to win the lottery. In March, Canada’s Competition Bureau launched an investigation into TicketMaster’s possible involvement in similar practices there. By April, it was clear that TicketMaster was feeling the pressure and passing it along to brokers when it alerted them to its plans to share with authorities the details of the Springsteen sales debacle as well as contact info for the brokers and details of their contracts with TicketsNow.com.
The controversy hit the federal level in April of this year when U.S. Senator Charles Schumer proposed legislation that would prohibit ticket brokers from buying their lots of tickets until two days after the start of public on-sale. This bill also would make illegal brokers’s long-standing practice of prelisting tickets for sale, essentially ending their ability to engage in speculative ticket sales.
“The big concern here is fraud, and it’s a big problem all over this country. It’s an issue of people selling fraudulent tickets, particularly football and entertainment [event tickets],” Ward said. He sees his bill as helping to effectively address fraud in the state of Alabama. “We can crack down and make sure there is a penalty, a misdemeanor in place to deter scalpers from selling in a fraudulent manner.”