Live event sector
A new report from New York Attorney General, Eric T Schneiderman, has put ticket touting – or scalping – back on the agenda in the US. Schneiderman’s report on secondary ticketing in New York – ‘Why Can’t New Yorkers Get Tickets’ – is based on a three year investigation, and could result in a new crackdown against online touting.
The regulation of ticket reselling in the US generally sits at a state-level. Rules in New York were actually relaxed in the early days of online touting, though the use of those bots to buy up large numbers of tickets is still banned there, and much of the new report – and possibly any resulting crackdown – is focused on the continued illegal use of such technology.
According to the New York Times, the new report includes various touting claims, including that as many as half the seats for many popular concerts are not offered to the general public, that a single high-tech tout bought 1,012 tickets to a U2 concert in under a minute, and that free tickets that had been distributed for an appearance by Pope Francis in the city were resold for thousands of dollars on the secondary market.
The Times also quotes the Attorney General as saying: “Ticketing is a fixed game. My office will continue to crackdown on those who break our laws, prey on ordinary consumers and deny New Yorkers affordable access to the concerts and sporting events they love. This investigation is just the beginning of our efforts to create a level playing field in the ticket industry”.
Its recommendations include requiring resellers to provide their broker licence numbers as a condition of using resale platforms; ending the state’s ban on non-transferable paperless tickets (any show using non-transferable paperless tickets is also currently required to offer them in transferable form, rather defeating their purpose); imposing criminal penalties for users of ticket bots; and capping permissible resale mark-ups.
Touts in New York were once limited in the mark-up they could apply to resale tickets – 45 per cent for tickets to venues with a capacity of over 6,000, and 20 per cent for those below – but Governor Eliot Spitzer abolished the restriction in 2007. The attorney-general last month pressured secondary-ticking sites StubHub, TicketNetwork and Vivid Seats to remove speculative listings for Bruce Springsteen’s 2016 The River Tour, arguing that listing tickets not yet in the seller’s possession constituted false advertising. Earlier this month Washington state senator Marko Liias called for an investigation into ticket bots in his state after sites selling Adele tickets “locked up almost immediately after the tickets went on sale”.
Other recommendations in the Report include demands that promoters are more transparent about how tickets are being released to the public, and that secondary sites police their systems more thoroughly, ensuring touting rules specific to New York are complied with when reselling tickets in the state.
Schneiderman suggestion that restrictions on so called ‘paperless ticketing’ should be removed from the state’s laws is a surprise: Although the locking of tickets to credit cards or smartphones is seen as one way of limiting touting, such approaches have caused their own consumer rights problems, with New York state in particular restricting such practices. But it seems the AG sees paperless ticketing as the lesser of two evils.
It remains to be seen how the operators of secondary ticketing websites respond to Schneiderman’s report. They always argue that by keeping touting on their sites, consumers actually get more protection. Meanwhile, most of the resale site companies support laws against the touting bots, so will be pleased that’s a central issue in the report, while Live Nation’s Ticketmaster – as a provider of paperless ticketing solutions – will like the removal of those regulations in New York.
In the UK there is limited regulation of the secondary market after amendments were made to the new Consumer Rights Bill – and this also forced the government to review the whole touting business That review is now underway, and a wide array of artistes from Elton John to Adele have stepped forward to express horror at the touts who buy up tickets to their shows meaning fans cannot get tickets – sometimes using so called ‘bots’ to bulk buy tickets as they are released – and then sell them on with massive mark ups.
http://www.completemusicupdate.com/article/new-york-attorney-general-to-publish-ticket-touting-report-promises-crackdown/ and http://www.iq-mag.net/2016/01/illegal-ticket-bots-widespread-in-new-york-attorney-general-eric-schneiderman/