Maryland Governor Signs Ticketing Bill

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(L-R: Spencer Dixon (State Senator Dawn Gile’s Office), State Senator Dawn Gile, Governor Wes Moore, Kevin Erickson (Future of Music Coalition), Audrey Fix Schaefer (I.M.P.), Jean Parker (Merriweather Post Pavilion), Delegate Adrienne Jones (Maryland Speaker of the House), Jordan Grobe (I.M.P.), Allison O’Brien (State Senator Dawn Gile’s Office), Tom Coale (Perry, White, Ross & Jacobson)

As expected, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed the state’s comprehensive ticketing bill into law May 9. The legislation, seen as a model for state-level ticketing reform, will go into effect July 1.

The bill, SB 539, sponsored by Dawn Giles, an Anne Arundel County Democrat, bans speculative ticketing and makes resale platforms accountable for any spec tickets sold or listed on their site, with a $10,000 fine for the first infraction and $25,000 on subsequent violations.

The bill requires all-in pricing throughout the purchasing process and codifies that a ticket is a license and not property and directs the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office to conduct a review of the event ticket marketplace, which will assess reselling activity, ticket costs in the primary versus reseller markets, and problems consumers encounter on the resale market including the fraudulent sale of tickets, counterfeit tickets, and the use of illegal bots to purchase tickets for resale.

Originally, the bill also included a hard 10 percent cap on resale pricing, a provision that drew plenty of attention and set tongues wagging across the industry. That provision was removed during the legislative process, though the hopes are that the study will demonstrate to hesitant lawmakers that such a cap is needed.

“In addition to Governor Moore, Senators Gile and Beidle, and Delegate Wilson, we’re also grateful to Marylanders who spoke out and let their elected officials know that they want protection from parasitic scalpers who use acts of deception to gouge concert fans,” said Audrey Fix Schaefer, communications director of Merriweather Post Pavilion and I.M.P. “Nearly 17,000 letters were sent by Marylanders to their state legislators, letting those in Annapolis know they want protection from the rampant deception and abuse that’s taking place now. We applaud the entire State legislature for this groundbreaking legislation, and we look forward to working with the Attorney General’s office to help ensure enforcement.”

I.M.P. and Merriweather Post Pavilion were among the leading advocates for the legislation, which had broad industry support, including from the National Independent Venue Association, Fix the Tix, the Recording Academy and others.