A Ticketmaster-backed bill in Colorado was stripped of multiple pro-consumer amendments by the state senate this week, which has caused advocacy groups to pull their support and urge that Governor Jared Polis use his veto power to protect Colorado consumers if it passes. Senate Bill 23-060 has been criticized as a dangerous pro-industry trojan horse, which would provide companies like Ticketmaster and parent Live Nation even more concentrated market power.

“The bill actually concentrated power into a few large entertainment conglomerates,” says Brian Hess of the Sports Fans Coalition, which is one of several groups opposing the bill, which carries the Orwellian title “Consumer Protection in Event Ticketing Sales”. “It did nothing to protect consumers, despite its name.”

The bill drew strong opposition from consumer groups after it was introduced, due to provisions that would empower companies like Ticketmaster and promoters like Live Nation to unilaterally cancel tickets listed for resale on other marketplaces, making them the defacto regulators of their own competitors. This, argues Colorado State Representative Steven Woodrow, would only continue the ever-skyrocketing price spiral driven by surge ticket pricing practices put in place by these same companies.

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“(Ticket companies) understand that competition on the secondary market puts downward pressure on their own prices on the primary market, so they have every incentive to try to restrict the resale and the free movement of tickets,” Woodrow said. He is a consumer protection attorney outside of his legislative duties and has brought lawsuits against teams and venues for unlawful ticket practices that would be made perfectly legal if the bill passes as-is.

After its initial negative reception, reports indicated that Gov. Polis had indicated that he would veto the bill due to its aggressive tilt towards Live Nation and companies like it, which area already facing enormous legislative pressure and criticism over their market power, highlighted at a January hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Following that, amendments loosening the language of the “deceptive” provision that was so repugnant were introduced. “Vital consumer protections” were added through one amendment added by the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee in the form of amendment L033, which requires the reporting of illegal “bot” activity as well as a requirement on transparency for ticket holdbacks. But the Senate opted to reject the House version of the bill, choosing instead to remove the amendments in what Hess described as a “backroom” process fueled by the enormous lobbying cash that the industry group has at its disposal.

 

According to the Colorado Secretary of State lobbyist search, Live Nation, the owner of Ticketmaster, AEG, AXS, and Kroenke Sports Group, who owns Ball Arena, are lobbying in support of the bill.

The bill will now have to go back to the House following the removal of some amendments. If approved, it will go to the Gov. Polis’ desk for him to sign.

“Governor Polis should take advantage of this opportunity to level the playing field for consumers,” said Erin Witte, Director of Consumer Protection for Consumer Federation of America. “Fans deserve to be prioritized, not deceived and forced to compete with bots to see their favorite artists.”