With a new ticket resale law on the books in New York, and legislators in New Jersey contemplating changes to that state’s ticketing regulations, Massachusetts rises to the top of the list of states where ticket resale could finally achieve legal acceptance.
Discussions about the Massachusetts’ anti-scalping laws began heating up back in 2007, and picked up steam in the fall of that year following overwhelming approval by the state House of a bill to make resale legal. That bill, H4251, allowed for event ticket resale for any price. Resellers had to either be licensed or use a licensed agent, and the proposed fee for licensure was $1,000 and must be accompanied by a $100,000 bond.
The next step for the bill was going to be the State Senate, and with the overwhelming nature of the House vote, there was momentum that it could pass the Senate, and there was a strong chance that it could have been signed into law.
But, then scandal set in, which derailed the effort. By early 2008, former Speaker of the House Salvatore DiMasi and his friend, former accountant Richard Vitale, were embroiled in a lobbying controversy while allegedly working on behalf of ticket brokers in the state, and the pair were later indicted on corruption charges.
DiMasi and Vitale allegedly helped the brokers gain access to politicians who were writing the bill; Vitale, who was not a registered lobbyist in the state, allegedly took about $60,000 from the brokers to work on their behalf.
In the immediate aftermath of the lobbying scandal, the Senate did not want to touch the ticket resale law, and it languished for months. But now, there is a chance discussions could resume this fall.
The legislature’s joint Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee currently has a bill before it, S2434, that calls for a study of several consumer protection-related issues, including ticket resale. The studies are to be conducted during 2010, but no completion date has been set, nor has the exact nature of the studies been disclosed.
But, the fact that the resale issue is back on the legislative radar could be a good thing for the secondary ticket industry, which gained a big victory concerning the regulation of paperless tickets. Boston, a major concert destination and a huge sports town, is one of the country’s marquee ticket resale cities, and recently even the New England Patriots softened their stance against the secondary market.
State Rep. Theodore Speliotis and Sen. Michael Morrissey, co-chairs of the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.