Corporate Spending Spurs Secondary Tix?

A New York consumer advocate is offering some insight into exactly who purchases tickets on the secondary market.

The state recently changed its tune on secondary ticketing. The law previously permitted resales at face value plus 45 percent for venues seating more than 6,000. All other tickets could be sold at face value plus 20 percent.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer signed a measure June 1st that repealed the state’s scalping statute, and at the time said the move was "good for the venues, good for consumers and good for the artists."

But Russ Haven, legislative counsel for the New York Public Interest Research Group, told the Albany Times Union the new law pits consumers against corporate expense accounts.

"This is a bum deal for consumers," Haven said. "Essentially all the seats will get diverted to the highest bidder – and in most cases, that’s either someone with a lot of disposable money or someone who can write it off as a business expense."

Haven cited "Why Can’t I Get Tickets?" a ticket scalping review released by Spitzer’s office when he served as N.Y.’s attorney general, as an example of the corporate spending.

The review reveals one incident in which a Wall Street firm paid a scalper $360,000 for tickets, he told the paper.

"That’s essentially $1,000 a day that this one company was spending on tickets to wine and dine clients, reward staff members and attract new business," Haven said. "They were vacuuming up all the best seats to the hot shows, and then writing it all off as a business expense."

New York is among the latest of a handful of states to open up the secondary market. Connecticut, Illinois, Florida and Minnesota dropped or relaxed their anti-scalping laws in the past year, and similar legislation is being considered in Massachusetts and Missouri.