Utah State Rep. Lynn Hemmingway is making a second attempt at passing a law capping ticket markup in Utah resale, having failed to gain traction in 2010.
The Democrat told the Salt Lake Tribune that this effort is inspired by a recent experience where he had to pay exorbitant prices to see a family member perform in a production of “Kinky Boots” at the Eccles Theater in that city.
“It cost me $400 for two tickets,” he complained after having complementary passes fall through.
“It occurred to me that the taxpayers of Utah put up a little money for that theater and other theaters [plus sports arenas] in Utah,” Hemingway said. ”It doesn’t seem fair to me that people are allowed to go buy up those tickets, and then sell them back at a huge [profit] margin and keep people from going to the theater.”
His 2010 effort to pass restrictions on resale went nowhere, due in part to the fact that lawmakers couldn’t figure out a method of enforcement. He admitted in the Tribune article that he isn’t even sure how to fight so-called gouging by scalpers.
A local ticket broker was dismissive of Hemmingway’s concerns relative to the Utah resale landscape.
“I don’t think Mr. Hemingway looked over the market, because most people couldn’t give away a ‘Kinky Boots’ ticket,” said Bob Hunt, owner of Salt Lake City-based Premier Tickets, which resells tickets to events around the nation.
“Tickets very seldom sell for more than face value in Utah. Most shows rarely sell out here,” he said. “If he’s paying $400 for ‘Kinky Boots’ tickets, it’s time for a new legislator if that’s who we have writing our laws.”
Gary Adler, executive director and general counsel of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, pointed out that price caps are generally a impossible to enforce and only hurt consumers by removing legitimate brokers from the equation and pushing secondary market activity underground, where fraud and gouging are common.
Hemmingway stated that the opening of a file on potential legislation is about beginning a discussion as much as anything else. He is interested in seeing what ideas or opposition is generated by the concept, ultimately to help his constituents avoid a situation similar to the one he faced after his freebie became unavailable.