With its back against the wall amid unprecedented scrutiny, Ticketmaster and its parent Live Nation are looking to push a flurry of legislation through across the United States in 2023, but consumer advocates have pushed back hard against one such bill introduced in Colorado. SB23-060 was introduced by Sen. Robert Rodriguez and would enable rights-holders to strip ticket purchasers of multiple rights they now have over the tickets they’ve paid for.

John Breyault of the National Consumers League and Brian Hess of the Sports Fans Coalition published an Op-Ed slamming the bill, calling it a “trojan horse legislation” designed to harm competitors of the ticketing giant by changing the law in ways that take power away from consumers that they largely support.

Their criticism largely focuses on one major flaw they see in the bill – it rolls back many facets of a 2018 law “protecting a consumer’s right to freely use, sell, or give away their purchased tickets by transferring them to someone else if they wish.” Colorado is one of several states that have such provisions in place, which limit the ability of rights-holders and ticketing companies like Ticketmaster, SeatGeek or AXS to lock tickets to a restrictive mobile-only ticketing system that can be used to eliminate the ability to transfer or resell tickets. Other states with such protections in place for consumers include New York, Connecticut, and Virginia, but companies like Live Nation have lobbied hard against their passage nationally as part of the BOSS Act as well as in other states that have seen similar consumer protection bills introduced to their respective legislatures.

TFL and ATBS for ticketing professionals

Meanwhile, that massive lobbying dollar has also been spent trying to roll back the protections in place in the few states that have them, including Colorado.

Predictably, Ticketmaster has unsuccessfully tried multiple times over the last several years to unwind Colorado’s pro-consumer ticketing law. The company is busy now pushing trojan horse legislation that on its surface appears terrific but hidden inside the bill is where things go wrong, enshrining this maligned company with incredible new powers. It is written in a way to make friends with venues too, since Ticketmaster isn’t winning any popularity contests these days and needs allies. While independent venues and others in Colorado also have a stake, theirs pales in comparison to the control Live Nation/Ticketmaster stands to concentrate given its grip on artist management, tour promotion, venues, and ticketing for live music and sports.

Breyault and Hess do agree with some provisions introduced in the bill, including prohibitions against the use of automated “bot” software and the requirement for all-in pricing for event tickets vs. the current system that many companies use to hide required fees until the last step of the transaction, which makes it nearly impossible for consumers to comparison shop in anything resembling an efficient manner.

“But these positive attributes aren’t worth the harms this legislation will create in the market,” they write. “If fans worry that Ticketmaster or venues will cancel tickets they buy on marketplaces like StubHub, Seat Geek, Vivid Seats or Gametime, they will turn to alternatives in shadow markets where there is no protection, where transactions are made in cash and offer no refunds. Counterfeit tickets that are mostly a thing of the past would thrive once again.”

In place of the Ticketmaster-friendly bill, they suggest that Colorado legislators consider the passage of the Ticket Buyers Bill of Rights, which includes:

  • All-in pricing — no surprise fees at checkout;
  • Mandating primary ticket-selling companies to report all illegal ticket bot activity to the appropriate authorities;
  • Disclosure of how many tickets are available to the general public at the time of “on sale”;
  • Clear and conspicuous disclosure when a ticket seller does not have a ticket in their possession or contractual right;
  • The guarantee of unrestricted transfer of all tickets;
  • A prohibition on deceptive URLs and other fraudulent reseller practices.

Their full editorial is available here