Last night, in dealing a victory in the name of consumer protection, Colorado Governor Jared Polis vetoed SB23-060. Though it included some good provisions, this legislation would have given permission to live event ticketing giants Ticketmaster and AXS to deceive consumers when tickets go on sale by creating fake scarcity, and turning a blind eye to illegal software bots that scoop up tickets before humans can instead of reporting their usage to law enforcement. It also contained a loophole that could have handed Ticketmaster, AXS and event venues the ability to cancel, revoke, or otherwise invalidate tickets they already sold for various reasons - a unique power in the market that other ticketing companies argue could harm consumers by making them fearful to buy tickets from another ticketing company even if they find better tickets at a lower price.
“We are thrilled that Governor Polis decided to protect consumers by vetoing SB23-060,” said Brian Hess, Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition. “Despite its name, the legislation didn’t go far enough to protect consumers, as evidenced by the stripping of several vital consumer protections from the bill. This is why consumer and fan advocates called for a veto, and we are grateful Governor Polis agreed. We look forward to working with lawmakers and the Governor next year to create a true consumer protection bill.”
The original draft of Senate Bill 23-060 while titled “Consumer Protection in Event Ticketing Sales” was not designed to protect consumers. Instead, it cleverly consolidated power to favor the ticketing duopoly of Ticketmaster and AXS to the detriment of the very “consumers” the bill claimed to protect. These were the companies that pushed for the legislation and participated in its initial drafting. The Colorado House of Representatives amended the bill to include two vital consumer protections – the disclosure of deceptive “ticket holdbacks” that involve tickets secretly not being made available when tickets go on sale to the public, and the reporting of illegal software bot usage when buying tickets. Lawmakers later removed these vital consumer protections and transparency measures before sending the final legislation to the Governor for his signature or veto. This action led to consumer advocates rescinding their support.
Requiring price transparency through all in, upfront pricing along with banning the use of deceptive websites or URLs that mislead consumers into believing they are visiting the website of the event venue, team, or music artist when they are not, are laudable requirements included in SB23-60. These along with other much-needed transparency and ticket holder protections should be the basis of legislation in 2024. Ideally, the legislative process will put the consumer at its core and not once again seek to favor certain corporate players in the live event system over others. In his veto letter, Governor Polis wrote just that, saying, "I appreciate the sponsors' work and encourage them to work with consumer advocates... to draft an unambiguously pro-consumer bill..."