Lawmakers seek change after Ticketmaster fiascos
Critics of three bills pushed by Assembly members say they are a gift to scalpers and would drive business away from New Jersey. (Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
After recent chaotic concert ticket sales for artists like Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift, and The Cure, state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would put new guardrails in place for ticketing platforms.
But critics argue the bills are a gift to scalpers and would drive business away from New Jersey venues.
Jim Leonard, senior vice president of government affairs for the Prudential Center, said the Newark venue is still recovering from pandemic-related dips in sales.
“The events business is a complex balancing of needs and interests of the artists, the venues, the promoters, the ticket agencies, and of course, the fans,” he said. “Ensuring we can attract shows to the state serves the business needs of those within our ecosystem, but also communities in which we live, work, and play.”
Leonard was testifying in the Statehouse in Trenton Monday for a discussion before the Assembly’s commerce committee on a three-bill package aimed at increasing transparency around ticketing fees, requiring venues to disclose information on ticket availability, and requiring ticket resale sites to provide certain information for users.
Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which merged in 2010 and control more than 70% of the ticketing and live show market, have come under fire in recent months from fans — and elected officials like Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. — who accuse them of price gouging and allowing bots to snatch up tickets before people can buy them.
Bruce Morris, testifying for ticket reseller site TicketNetwork, said the three bills are a “golden opportunity to clean up some of the most problematic issues for consumers in the ticketing space.”
Morris pointed to issues within the industry like mobile-only tickets, which unlike physical tickets are untransferable and force consumers to share personal data. He urged lawmakers to consider banning restrictive paperless ticketing systems.
“These systems are increasingly being used to eliminate consumer choice to use, transfer, or sell tickets that they purchased,” said Morris, a retired lawmaker from Connecticut.
Executives from other resale sites like StubHub and managers of venues like Prudential Center and Camden’s Freedom Mortgage Pavillion spoke in support of the general need for regulations, but they disputed how helpful these bills would be.
Ron VanDeVeen, general manager of MetLife Stadium, said new rules that affect ticketing might threaten the stadium’s bid on the final match of the 2026 World Cup. An already-signed agreement for the bid states no changes can be made to the ticketing policy, he said.
He echoed a Ticketmaster rep’s concerns that the bill that would require resale sites to provide certain information about tickets would instead provide a clear path for ticket brokers who are trying to buy up as many tickets as possible. That bill would mandate that ticket websites show how many tickets are available per venue, how many are released to date, and how many have been sold.
“Mandating disclosure of technical information about seat inventories does nothing for ordinary fans — who cannot use that data — while providing a roadmap for bots and speculative ticket sellers,” said Marla Ofstroff, managing director for Ticketmaster North America.
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