A bill requiring ticket sales platforms to offer consumer freedom on tickets they purchase unanimously passed out of committee in the Florida legislature Monday. The bill, SB 1316, was unanimously approved by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee in a 9-0 vote. it will next be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The bill is intended to limit the restrictions on consumer choice that non-transferable ticketing systems represent, according to Senator Ed Hooper, who is the bill’s sponsor. It would also decrease the potential for monopolistic behavior fueled by ticket restrictions put in place by the event organizer that limit consumers to only conduct resale transactions within the original ticketing system. Multiday tickets or passes would be exempt from the law.
“If I go buy a ticket to the Tampa Bay Rays, technically I’m not able to go hand that ticket to a young boy who has never seen a baseball game, because that’s technically not my ticket,” Hooper said.
The law, if passed, would put Florida among several other states that already have legal requirements regarding consumer choice in ticketing platforms. States like New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Utah, and Virginia have already put laws protecting consumer choice on the books. This means that if you purchase a ticket through any primary seller, they are legally obligated to offer you the option of receiving that ticket in a format that is freely transferrable – often in the form of a paper “hard” ticket or a PDF e-ticket that can be shared without going back through the ticketing system to be either scanned off of a mobile device or printed at home.
Ticket transfer rights has gained momentum in recent years as an increasingly important issue for consumers. Companies like Ticketmaster and AXS have increasingly built out systems that rely on mobile-only ticket apps for ticket delivery. Such apps mean that the actual ticket is locked within the system, and can only be used, transferred, or sold if the ticketing system allows it. At best, it is an enormous data grab that allows consumer information to be sold to third parties. At worst, it can lead to hundreds of people being locked out from venues at the whim of the event promoters if they decide to unilaterally act against competition in the ticket resale space.
Some legislators expressed concern that such a bill could lead to an increase in consumer prices for tickets, but supporters of the measure believe that consumers benefit and prices fall when there are fewer restrictions on tickets, rather than more. “The debate isn’t whether [ticket] resale is good or bad,” says StubHub head of government relations Laura Dooley. “The debate is who controls resale.”
Dooley pointed out that Ticketmaster, which is owned by Live Nation, controls an overwhelming share of the live event market in the United States. Operating on both sides of the fence, it uses technology such as its “Safetix” barcode system to extend its control over tickets to well beyond when a consumer has paid for them – actions that have often drawn with them accusations of monopolistic behavior from both consumers and legislators. The proposed law, she argued, will curb those behaviors by limiting the power one company has over tickets it has already sold.
If passed, the bill would take effect on July 1 of this year. The full bill language is available here. You can track its progress through Florida’s legislature here.