Plan would allow scalping of sports, concert tickets|
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana should accept that ticket scalping is inevitable, rather than try to stop it.
Such is the thinking behind two bills moving through the Legislature that would legalize the resale of concert and sports tickets for a profit, as long as the sales go through corporate Internet sites that could then collect fees on the transactions. An official from one company, Ticketmaster, said 35 other states already allow online scalping of tickets to concerts, sporting events and other entertainment.
Both Ticketmaster and eBay are supporting the repeal of Louisiana's existing laws criminalizing scalping, arguing that they are outdated and simply push the practice underground — toward the illegal scalper in the parking lot, who has a handful of tickets for sale, all of which might be fakes. The companies argue that sanctioned scalping would prevent such fraud because the legislation requires the firms provide buyers with guarantees that the resold tickets are genuine.
"When you dig into the policy of this, it really makes sense to do away with these laws," said Terry Samovar, a Ticketmaster vice president who testified in support of one proposal last week before the Senate Commerce Committee.
Both measures would require that the host of the event approve of the scalping: without an OK from LSU, for instance, reselling LSU football tickets for a profit would remain illegal.
Officials from both LSU and the New Orleans Hornets declined to say whether their teams would approve the idea.
"I think we'd have to, if this passes, really study the matter and do what is best for LSU and LSU fans," said Herb Vincent, the school's associate athletics director.
"We would probably talk to peer institutions who are in states that allow ticket scalping ... and see what the effects would be on our fans and our business."
In a written statement, Hornets spokesman Michael Thompson said the team was concerned about the authenticity and cost of scalped tickets. Legalized scalping "presents a number of difficult issues for us," he said.
A New Orleans Saints spokesman did not return several calls for comment.
If a bill passes and gets a team's approval, Ticketmaster and eBay would collect fees on top of the seller's profit. In other states, Ticketmaster imposes a fee that can range from roughly 15 percent to 25 percent of the total cost of a ticket, Samovar said. Catherine England, an eBay spokeswoman, said her company would charge the same fees it imposes on other sales, which vary depending on the final sale price.
Under Ticketmaster's system, the holder of a Hornets or Britney Spears concert ticket valued at $100 could offer it for sale at any price on a web site run up by Ticketmaster. If the buyer agreed to pay $180, the company could impose a 20 percent fee, or $36, divided evenly between the buyer and the seller. The seller would receive $162; the buyer would pay $198, plus state or local taxes and shipping costs.
One bill, by Rep. Billy Montgomery, D-Haughton, is awaiting debate on the House floor. Another, by Sen. Noble Ellington, D-Winnsboro, is awaiting Senate floor debate.
Neither bill has faced opposition.
A Senate committee approved Ellington's bill unanimously last week, but only after Sen. Ken Hollis, R-Metairie, amended it to ban scalping two types of tickets: those set aside for university students and for members of the Legislature.