Hidden Concert Ticket Fees Officially Banned in New York

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed new legislation on Thursday (June 30) that increases transparency for consumers buying tickets to live events, effectively banning hidden fees.

The bill, which the Hochul signed just one day before the state’s current ticketing law was set to expire, passed the state senate on June 2 and the assembly on June 3.

Under the legislation, both sellers and resellers are required to disclose an “all-in” price tag upfront and are barred from displaying it in a smaller type size. The bill (S.9461/A.10500) also increases civil fines for the use of scalper bots and ticket purchasing software, outlaws the resale of free tickets (though free tickets can still be legally transferred to another person), forbids delivery fees on tickets that are delivered electronically or printed at home, and requires sellers to make clear to buyers when a ticket is being resold and disclose the original ticket price.

New York, home to major music and sports venues as well as Broadway, typically overhauls its ticketing laws every three years. The state’s existing ticketing law has been due to expire Friday, with the bill adding policy recommendations from a 2020-21 legislative investigation into the state’s live event ticketing industry over concerns of unfair and deceptive practices in the primary and secondary markets.

The new law is a scaled-back version of one that was included in an omnibus bill introduced by New York State Sen. James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) last year. During negotiations, measures including new rules for refunds, a cap on “holdbacks” – tickets reserved by artists for insiders that are not made available to the general public – and a requirement for artists to disclose the size of an artist’s allotment of such tickets were excised from the legislation.

After the bill passed both the assembly and senate earlier this month, Ticketmaster, the largest ticketing company in the U.S., praised the new legislation despite the potential ramifications for its business. “We are supportive of industry-wide reforms and believe even more can be done to aid artists in delivering tickets to fans at their set price points,” Marla Ostroff, Ticketmaster managing director – North America, said at the time.

“Live entertainment has long been a critical sector in our economy, and as consumers and the industry recover from the pandemic, it is important that we make the ticket-buying experience easier and more transparent,” Governor Hochul said in a statement on Thursdsay. “This bill will expand penalties for malicious ticketing practices that have made live events inaccessible to New Yorkers for too long. Today, we are taking an important step towards ensuring that every New Yorker has a fair opportunity to enjoy the unique arts and cultural experiences that our state has to offer.”

Skoufis added, “While there’s still more work to be done to ensure the live event ticketing industry is fully accountable to its customer, I am proud of the work we accomplished this year to eliminate hidden fees, ensure all-in pricing, fight bots, and several other measures to inject some honesty into the ticket-buying process. The rules of the game for ticket retailers were set before the internet even existed–a fact that’s become exceedingly clear as mega ticket sellers have used those rules to rip off consumers in the wake of COVID cancellations — and New York is leading the way on reforms nationwide.”

In his own statement, New York Assemblymember Daniel J. O’Donnell (D-Manhattan), who serves as chair of the Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development, said, “New York is the epicenter of the entertainment world, and making sure artists, performers, and venues can reach fans and sell tickets is essential to their success. I am very proud of this legislation, which creates a fair playing field for all those in the industry, adds important new consumer protections, and makes sure that fans and event goers have access to tickets for all the events they want to see.”

Protect Ticket Rights, an initiative of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, released a statement applauding the bill for continuing to allow the transfer of free tickets while praising state lawmakers for their “attempt to fix what is broken in ticketing and protect consumers,” according to NATB executive director Gary Adler.

“While terrific progress is being made at the state level, really all consumers across the nation deserve the same protections,” Adler continued. “The U.S. Congress should revisit its past work on this matter to finally repair deep flaws in ticketing that begin before tickets go on sale all the way to the point when they are scanned for entry. Consumers deserve better than what they face today.

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