MD SB 539/HB 701: Ticket Resale Shouldn’t be a Crime in Maryland

When Maryland SB539/HB701 was introduced, Sports Fans Coalition immediately recognized the well-intentioned nature of the ticketing consumer protection bill. However, the solutions proposed would have massive unintended consequences that would exacerbate harms to sports fans – including criminalizing a fan reselling their ticket. 

At the bill hearing, we testified that:

“Fans often invest thousands of dollars per year, every year to support their favorite team. However, many of these fans rely on selling a high-profile or rivalry game to subsidize the investment or even afford playoff tickets – something Ravens fans know well this year. Those who say 'if you can’t afford it alone, don’t buy it' fail to recognize that many of these season ticket licenses are heirlooms and may be passed down to younger generations, carrying with it an emotional commitment. Or, maybe the fan could have afforded it without resale but was laid off recently and needs to make a mortgage payment or pay a surprise medical bill. 

Price caps like this can also give life to a gray market where fans don’t have any of the protections legitimate exchanges provide.”

The bill sponsors have yet to address these or any of the other concerns that consumer advocates have raised and would make season ticket holders subject to a misdemeanor fine of $1000 or a year in jail for reselling a sports ticket for even just $1 more than face value than “a comparable ticket” – whatever that means. Sports teams and venues change the price of a ticket depending on supply and demand – a deceptive practice known as dynamic pricing. How is a sports fan supposed to know the comparable price of a ticket when the price constantly changes? 

In an attempt to get at bad actors in the ticketing landscape, why are lawmakers making fans suffer under potentially draconian resale cap laws; laws that have largely been repealed elsewhere in the country. Instead they should attack the root cause of the problem – the monopoly that pulls the strings over nearly every venue in Maryland, Live Nation/Ticketmaster. 

There is one bill that attacks the problem at the source, SB 1113 introduced by Senators Hershey and Klausmeier. SB 1113 would create true all-in pricing, end deceptive holdbacks, ban restricting transferability of tickets, and provide refunds for fans. It is a fan-focused set of principles, and doesn’t spare any for-profit, corporate interest in the live events system from having to compete on a more level playing field.

It’s time for lawmakers to vote no on SB 539/HB 701.

Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Brian Hess
    published this page in Blog 2024-03-02 12:27:49 -0500