Georgia is among the states looking to put consumer-friendly ticket resale reform into law this year, with Senate Bill 495 introduced earlier this month. The bill is similar to legislation under consideration in Florida, in that it introduces a requirement for consumer choice in the format that a ticket is issued by event operators, requiring the option of tickets that are freely transferable – rather than locked to a restrictive mobile-only or paperless ticket system controlled by the seller.
Senate Bill 495 was introduced on February 10, sponsored by Sens Matt Brass (R), Jeff Mullis (R), Michael Dugan (R), Lee Anderson (R), Steve Gooch (R), Randy Robertson (R), John Albers (R), and Greg Dolezal (R). It is currently awaiting review by the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
The Coalition for Ticket Fairness, a New York-based organization that has been active in the crafting of the state’s ticket resale laws, came out in support of SB 495 earlier this week.
“It is the mission of The Coalition of Ticket Fairness to ensure that fans are able to transfer their tickets easily and efficiently to maintain a free, fair and open marketplace which does not favor exclusivity,” it said in a statement posted to its Facebook page. “It is shown this exclusivity leads to higher prices and less fair competition. We will be monitoring this legislation and contacting stakeholders to offer assistance.”
Nontransferrable tickets – such as systems that “prohibit the ticket holder from giving away, reselling, or otherwise exchanging the ticket by a method of the ticket holder’s choosing; or requires the ticket holder and ticket purchaser to facilitate the exchange of the ticket exclusively through an application program operated by the original ticket seller” are specifically targeted by the legislation. That means ticket systems locked into mobile-only applications such at Ticketmaster’s SafeTix, and similar systems from AXS, MLB and other ticketing providers, would be impacted. The bill stipulates that tickets can only be sold in such formats if “at the time of sale, the original ticket seller prominently offers the option to purchase the same ticket with no limit on transferability,” it reads. It also requires that “the original ticket seller shall not penalize, discriminatea against, or deny access to an event to an individual who purchases or resells a ticket in a manner authorized by this subsection.”
The law, if passed, would put Georgia 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.
The need for legislation protecting consumer choice in ticketing has become increasingly important in recent years as restrictive technologies have been embraced by ticketing providers, who can use such systems to restrict or even elmininate the ability of those who have purchased tickets to resell, transfer, or even give away tickets they can no longer use. Ticketmaster’s “Safetix” system has become infamous after being used to shut hundreds of consumers out of events solely on the basis of tickets having been resold, despite otherwise being completely valid. Attempts have been made by Ticketmaster to rebrand safetix as a COVID-19 solution, but the technology was developed with the elimination of competition from non-Ticketmaster resale marketplaces in mind.
Beyond resale restrictions, such systems have proven prone to failure, including at Super Bowl LVI, where a Ticketmaster system outage led to chaos for those looking to wait out the high-priced ticket market and grab tickets at the last minute. Instead of snagging a deal, the non-transferable ticket system fell victim to API failures, which shut down the ability to sell or transfer tickets – even for authorized resale platforms besides Ticketmaster, since the entire exchange ran through its system by design. Similar failures have locked out consumers at events repeatedly in recent years as mobile-only restricted tickets have been forced upon consumers.