Modifying Mass. Ticket Laws

A Massachusetts state senator recently proposed some sweeping legislation that, if passed, would make the state the first in the nation to set caps on the fees and service charges imposed by ticketing companies like Ticketmaster.

Sen. Michael Morrissey’s bill permits sellers to charge as much as $12 above face value on a ticket for convenience, transaction and venue fees combined, although buyers must be provided with an invoice that breaks down those fees at the time of purchase.

The bill also addresses anti-scalping regulations, as Massachusetts is currently one of 17 states that limit how much a reseller can tack on to the original price – a markup of $2 per ticket. The proposed legislation would allow reselling at up to three times face value for tickets.

Web-based secondary market sites like StubHub are targeted in the bill as well. New regulations would include limiting the number of sales that individuals can list on such sites to 10 per year, and limiting the fees those sites can charge individual sellers to no more than 25 percent of transaction values.

Morrissey told the Boston Globe that the bill is unlikely to pass in its current form, but that there is a growing contingent of legislators in the state who are trying to change the ticketing laws.

"I guess the question is: How aggressive do you want to be?" he said. "The bureaucratic nightmare is, we don’t have sufficient revenues to enforce the laws we have on the books now."

To address those revenue issues, the bill would set forth a 5-cent per-ticket charge to develop a Ticket Sales Administration and Investigation fund to help uphold the new regulations.

Massachusetts ticketing laws have been under recent scrutiny following a rash of lawsuits.

The New England Patriots filed suit against StubHub in November claiming the company encourages violations of anti-scalping laws as well as the team’s own rules against reselling tickets for profit. The company countersued a month later.