The second of two Connecticut legislative committees is poised to discuss the proposed consumer-friendly ticket resale law on Monday, April 12, and if it approves the bill it will head to the state House of Representatives for a vote.
Last month, the legislature’s General Law Committee approved the measure, which contains some of the country’s strongest language to foster transparency and protect consumers and resellers, and preserve a free and open secondary ticket market.
The proposed bill, HB 5228, prohibits promoters, venues, teams and other entertainment operators from restricting the resale of event tickets, particularly season tickets, and also bans those operators from denying access to an event to a ticket holder who is carrying a valid resold ticket.
In addition, the bill requires 3,000-plus seat venues to disclose to the public the total number of tickets available for an event; the number of tickets being released to the public; and the number of tickets being withheld due to logistical factors like stage and sound design. This information is to be released within 48 hours of the initial public onsale, including onsales through fan clubs, which are considered public onsales.
Finally, the bill also bans the use of “bot” software programs, which allow users to circumvent online security protocols to quickly and surreptitiously hack into ticket seller computers to scoop up large blocks of tickets, often before the public has a legitimate chance to purchase them.
Though this is not necessarily an indication of what the Judiciary Committee might do, the bill received overwhelming support from the General Law Committee last month, despite the objections of Ticketmaster and Hartford’s XL Center, which both believe the proposed legislation, particularly as it relates to the transparency aspects, could have a chilling effect on acts coming to the state to perform.
Joining Ticketmaster and the XL Center in opposition was John Fisher, executive director of the Connecticut Association for the Performing Arts and New Haven’s Shubert Theater. “We feel though introduced as a well intended measure and protection for the consumer, the actual effect would be to impose severe reporting burdens on Connecticut not-for-profits, limit entertainment choices for consumers, put union jobs at risk, and significantly hamper economic growth in our state,” he wrote in a letter to the legislature.
Mike Janes, CEO of ticket search engine FanSnap, was one of several ticketing professionals to support the measure, because it “protects consumers from financial harm,” “enables consumers to make independent and informed choices, and “includes adequate safety and security measures.”
“Over the past decade, a vibrant secondary market for live event tickets has developed both online and offline. As a result, as never before, consumers have full access to information regarding current market prices for tickets and the opportunity to make informed choices regarding their live event ticket purchases,” Janes wrote to the legislature. “Rather than relying on the information provided to them by a single ticket provider regarding ticket prices and availability, consumers can investigate the state of the market on their own, determine whether tickets that fit their budget are available, and decide whether or not to buy the tickets that are just right for them.”
State Rep. Mike Lawlor, who co-chairs the Judiciary Committee, was in a meeting today and unavailable for comment. If the committee approves the bill Monday, it will go to the House. If approved there, it will go onto the state Senate, and if that group approves it, the bill will head to Gov. Jodi Rell’s desk for signature.
Consumers have long complained about a lack of disclosure concerning how tickets are distributed, to whom and how many are withheld from the public, which the legislation seeks to address. This week in New Jersey, for example, Gov. Chris Christie called for a review of ticketing policies by the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority pertaining to tickets held back for elected officials.