With just weeks to go in the current legislative session in New York, time is short before the current law protecting consumer rights in ticketing expires. But, there are competing versions of what renewing those protections looks like.
On the one side, there’s maintaining the status quo with a straight extension of the existing Law. On the other, there is a bill brought by Sen. James Skoufis that adds a comprehensive set of additional protections for consumers. Both sides spoke to Politico (subscription needed) as time ticks away on the chance to determine the future of ticketing in the state, and while they currently disagree, there’s an agreement on the principle that inaction isn’t an option as live events get back online.
“They literally go out of business in New York state if we revert back to the old law,” Skoufis told Politico. “My expectation is there’s going to be a meeting of the minds, and we’re going to reconcile with the Assembly. It would be unproductive for me to be immovable on my bill and it’s equally unproductive, in my mind, for the Assembly to be immovable.”
Skoufis and supporters of his changes will need to work with Daniel O’Donnell, the Assembly Tourism Committee Chair, who expressed his opinion that large-scale changes to the existing law are unnecessary at this time, due in large part to the fact that the existing law hasn’t seen enough test in its application due to the long pause on live events due to COVID.
“When we wrote the [bill that was passed in 2018], we had the expectation that once it was up and running, we would revisit the issue based on what was working or not working,” O’Donnell told Politico. And what we’ve been deprived of is 18 months of information about how it works, because there have been no ticket sales at all.”
O’Donnell also expressed his feeling that the bill is coming too late in the cycle to be properly considered, despite the fact that numerous consumer advocacy organizations and even newspapers have come out in support of the Skoufis bill.
“We have a legislative term and a legislative cycle. And he dropped this a week ago, and we passed our extender two months ago, and in all this time there was no communication that they were going to do any of this,” he said. “Some of [the changes] might be OK. But the reality is that everybody currently involved in this industry doesn’t want these changes right now — they want to wait to see how the reopening goes.”
As the two sides work to determine their next steps, a wild card may be how the Governor’s office weighs in on the simple extension or more comprehensive aims that Skoufis’ bill brings. After extending the existing law several years ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he didn’t want to continue signing the same bill into law without further consumer protections, including more transparency on ticket availability and holdbacks – one of the many provisions brought by the Skoufis’ bill. “Without these reforms,” he said in 2016, “I will not be signing similar legislation next year.”
That said, similar legislation was signed in 2017, and again in 2018, with some small changes but far short of sweeping reform that brings protection against the worst exesses of a monopolistic primary marketplace.
We have requests for comment to the office of Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnel regarding specific portions of the Skoufis bill he may be in support of even if adopting the entirety of the changes isn’t in the cards this year. We’ll update with any response received.