Mar 23, 2023 - News

How Colorado's ticketing bill could change the industry

Illustration of a carnival ticket reading admit none

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Buying tickets to a concert or sporting event can be a headache, but a state lawmaker wants to make that process easier by banning speculative ticketing sales.

Driving the news: The sometimes deceptive practice allows sellers to list tickets despite not yet owning them.

  • Deceptive trade practices include software that automatically buys tickets, selling them without showing the total costs or additional fees, or increasing the price after it's been selected for purchase.

How we got here: "This bill has been around for a little while, but the only reason it seems to be garnering attention is because of Taylor Swift," bill sponsor Sen. Robert Rodriguez (D-Denver) said.

Of note: Ticketmaster previously blamed bots snatching up tickets for the Swift debacle β€” something Rodriguez's bill would outlaw.

The other side: Resale companies and consumer protection groups say the bill is not what it seems.

The Colorado bill would let event operators like music venues revoke or restrict tickets bought or sold through deceptive trade practices, which prompted an outcry from ticket resale companies.

  • Representatives for Vivid Seats and StubHub said during a hearing last month the bill would make it easier for Ticketmaster to void tickets bought through its competitors.
  • StubHub said in a statement to Axios it opposed the bill, in part because the company feels it was drafted to the benefit LiveNation, AEG, other operators and ticket sellers.

What they're saying: "The proposed bill does not include any meaningful regulation specifically of operators and primary ticket sellers," StubHub tells us in a statement.

  • Ian Lee, of Protect Ticket Rights, a consumer protection organization, said groups like his want to back the bill, but don't support it because they feel it was crafted for LiveNation.

Yes, but: Ticketmaster told us in a statement the changes would "benefit artists and increase consumer protections for fans while keeping tickets out of the hands of scalpers."

  • Michael Goldberg, owner of concert venue Belly Up Aspen, supports the bill, and he tells us giving smaller venues like his the power to revoke tickets from bad actors β€” including people selling single tickets multiple times β€” is one reason he backs it.

Between the lines: The bill would include penalties and fines, and people charged multiple times can face up to a $1 million fine, Rodriguez said.

What's next: The bill will be heard by the House Committee on Business Affairs & Labor on Thursday.

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