New York’s legislature Thursday voted to approve changes to the arts and culture laws surrounding live event ticketing, adding a requirement that ticket sellers use “all-in” pricing up front with consumers that include all fees to be charged. Other changes on tap with the laws include a requirement that ticket resellers publish a “face value” with ticket listings, and higher penalties for those found to be using automated “bot” programs to purchase tickets. The law will be valid through 2025 if it is signed by the Governor.
Senator James Skoufis authored the bill that made its way through the Senate, while Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell championed the updated legal framework in the state’s other chamber. Both celebrated its passage on Friday, citing it as full of improvements for consumers in the state, particularly important with live entertainment on the rebound following the lengthy COVID-related halt.
“New York is the epicenter of the entertainment world, and making sure artists, performers, and venues can reach fans and sell tickets is essential to their work,” says Assemblyman O’Donnell in a release issued Friday following the bill’s passage. “I am very proud of this legislation, which creates a fair playing field for all those in the industry, and makes sure event goers have transparent and easy access to tickets and protections against bad actors. For shows big and small, and from theater to music to sports and more, this legislation keeps live events in New York booming, and ready to step back into the spotlight.”
Sen. Skoufis had championed a number of additional consumer-friendly updates to New York law when his bill was initially drafted in 2021, but most did not make it through the lobbying process, which see companies like Live Nation Entertainment spend enormous sums to make sure its marketplace dominance aren’t challenged.
According to a press release from Sen. Skoufis, most legislators had sought a straight extension of the existing laws, as happened in 2021. So while the bill did not achieve a number of the initial objectives he proposed after hearings probing the industry held last year, the net result was a strong positive for New York consumers.
“This has been a long, uphill battle, but we got the job done on behalf of consumers,” said Senator Skoufis. “Concert goers, theater lovers, and sports fans deserve to know exactly how much these sellers are charging when they decide to part with their hard-earned dollars. I’ve heard countless stories from constituents about the exorbitant, deceitful fees charged by mega retailers like Ticketmaster or Stubhub, and had first-hand experiences myself, and these reforms will help New Yorkers enjoy a night out or a big playoff game without much of the ticket buying heartache.”
The all-in pricing factor is a big one, as many have pointed to the practice of hiding unavoidable ticket fees until the last stage of a transaction to be a major consumer issue in ticketing. It was a centerpiece of the discussion at the 2019 FTC workshop on ticketing, and many ticket marketplaces have already at least begun to offer consumers a toggle to view prices including all fees by default (with notable exceptions like Vivid Seats, which was recently sued in California for its hiding of fees until the last step of a purchase).
Consumer advocates lauded the changes made in the release from Sen. Skoufis’ office.
“Live event fans in New York won today thanks to the leadership of pro-consumer legislators like Senator Skoufis,” said John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud at the National Consumers League. “This bill’s first-in-the-nation all-in pricing requirements will finally stop giant ticketing companies from hiding the true cost of a ticket and surprising fans with huge fees at the end of a transaction.”
“Hidden fees can increase the price of an event ticket by as much as 30 to 40 percent,” said Chuck Bell, Advocacy Programs Director for Consumer Reports. “These common sense consumer protections for ticket buyers are long overdue and will help ensure pricing is fair and transparent. We urge Governor Hochul to sign this measure into law so ticket sellers can no longer hide extra fees until the very end of the ticket buying process.”
The face value provision may prove more mixed in reception, as the entire concept of face value seems to have been jettisoned in favor of a dynamic ticket pricing system put in place by primary marketplaces like Ticketmaster, which gauge demand, then surge prices based on what their algorithms and consumer data tell them is the maximum a consumer might pay at that given moment.
The bill is available for review here. It will go into effect later this year if signed by Governor Hochul.