Senate Panel Advances All-In Pricing, Spikes Spec Ticket Regulation

A U.S. Senate committee advanced a bill that will require so-called all-in pricing for event tickets Thursday, but the bipartisan legislation no longer includes restrictions on speculative ticketing.

Originally sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the Transparency In Charging for Key Events Ticketing — or TICKET — Act, moved through the mark-up phase in the Senate Commerce Committee, where enjoys the support of the panel’s Democratic chairperson, Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, who is listed as the bill’s co-sponsor. Cruz is the committee’s ranking member.

The version the committee approved requires primary and secondary sellers to “disclose the total event price” at every stage of the transaction and provide a breakdown of all the fees included within that price.

Ticketing reform has broad bipartisan support — as predicted, it’s proven to be one of the few issues that bridges the ideological divide — and the bill comes on the heels of a White House confab that saw industry leaders committing to all-in pricing.

However, Cruz’s original version also included language that would have banned the sale of so-called speculative tickets — that is tickets that are not actually in possession of the seller — without a disclosure. That language was removed by amendment during the mark-up process.

“The live event ticketing market is a rigged game, riddled with deception and a lack of transparency at every turn. We are extremely disappointed that the Commerce Committee today bowed to pressure from industry opponents and missed an opportunity to reduce the risk that fans end up high and dry without tickets to events they had otherwise planned to attend,” the Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights Coalition — an umbrella group of consumer advocacy organizations — said in a statement. “The TICKET Act, as amended, is a step in the right direction but a reminder of why vested interests continue to resist comprehensive reform. “

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The Fix The Tix Coalition also expressed qualified support.

“The Fix the Tix Coalition looks forward to working with Senators … on a broad array of critical reforms in the Fix the Tix plan that must be enacted by Congress to protect consumers from predatory ticketing practices. These measures include a total ban on speculative tickets, which are fake tickets, and extensive efforts to prevent price gouging of consumers on the secondary ticketing market,” the coalition said. “The Fix the Tix coalition urges swift action by the Senate Commerce Committee on forthcoming comprehensive ticketing legislation that empowers local economic development, restores integrity to the ticketing marketplace, and safeguards consumers, artists, and venues.”

Cantwell said, in a statement, there will be action on speculative ticketing…eventually. She said she planned to work with members “to ensure that in the future venues who have to fight against the scourge of people trying to pretend that they’re selling tickets to their venue that we actually stop that practice in the future.”

The TICKET Act now heads to the full Senate. The companion bill in the House has been referred to that chamber’s Commerce Committee.