The New Jersey Ticket Consumer Choice act was advanced out of committees by both the senate (S376) and assembly (A3194) on Monday, the latest step in the efforts to improve consumer rights on tickets in the Garden State. The Assembly bill passed through the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee by a 5-1 vote, while the senate version was moved on via a 4-1 vote.
“When an individual buys a ticket, they should be able to do whatever they want with it,” says Senator Robert Singer (District 30 – Monmouth and Ocean), one of the primary sponsors of the legislation. “Some sellers have restrictions that limit the ticket-holders’ freedom to resell the ticket. Restrictions can go so far as to forbid giving the ticket as a gift. The conditions are overly aggressive. If you bought it, if you paid for it, you own it and you should be able to use it, sell it or give it away.”
At its core, the New Jersey Ticket Consumer Choice Act updates the legal framework around live event tickets to make them something that the consumer actually owns when they pay for it, vs. the current industry-favored system that makes them more of a rental of the right to attend something with very restricted conditions. They allow consumers – not event promoters – to decide what they want to do with a ticket and limits the ability of event operators to put conditions on usage and resale.
“A handful of large corporations dominate the ticket market,” Singer noted. “With this measure, we are restoring some important equity and empowering the little guy. Everybody benefits from a more fair and reasonable balance.”
Singer was joined in sponsoring the senate bill by Senator Loretta Weinberg (District 37 – Bergen), with co-sponsorship of the bill rising to a full 10 percent of its membership as the bill made its way to Monday’s hearings. On the assembly side, members Gordon M. Johnson (District 37), Clinton Calabrese (District 36 – Bergen & Passaic) and Robert J. Karabinchak (District 18 – Middlesex) were the initial co-sponsors of A3194, with a full 20 percent of members joining in sponsorship before the hearings.
When the bills were initially submitted earlier this year, consumer rights organizations including Fan Freedom and the Sports Fans Coalition came out in support of the legislation, citing the additional consumer protections and benefits conferred on New Jersey residents for tickets purchased to live events. Opposition to these bills comes primarily from ticketing giants like Ticketmaster, who hope to continue their limitation of consumer rights using proprietary technology like non-transferable tickets.