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State may give scalpers free rein


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State may give scalpers free rein

Bill would remove limit on resale prices of tickets

Jay Gallagher

Albany bureau chief

(May 30, 2007) — ALBANY — The Assembly passed a bill Tuesday that removes the cap on how much tickets to sports, cultural and entertainment can be resold for. The Senate is expected to follow suit later this week.

Lawmakers passed a similar measure two years ago, only to see it vetoed by then-Gov. George Pataki. Gov. Eliot Spitzer hasn't said if he approves of the idea.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, passed 102-34. It would eliminate a law that now caps the price a ticket can be sold, or scalped, for at 45 percent above its face value in arenas or theaters with more than 6,000 seats, and 25 percent for smaller venues.

The new law creates a "free market" for the sale of tickets, its supporters say.

But opponents say the law is a bad deal for the average fan.

"Average fans will be priced out of popular entertainment and sporting events. They'll end up competing against corporate expense accounts," said Russ Haven of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "With no price controls, the only one who will be able to afford to watch A-Rod is A-Rod," referring to Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees' $25-million-a-year third baseman.

Haven said instead of scrapping the law, the state should step up enforcement.

But supporters say that the face value of tickets is now so high that "many tickets are already unaffordable for consumers. Therefore, controlling the prices on the secondary market is not an effective consumer protection."

And they say by licensing brokers, the incidence of fraud in the ticket sales will be reduced. The state will also make some money through registration fees.


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