Md. lawmakers pass bill to address deceptive concert, sports ticket prices — here’s how it will help

If you’ve bought a ticket to a concert or a sporting event lately, you know how much the prices have spiked in the last few years. Costs can be in the thousands for big-name performers or hugely popular teams.

Now, there’s been a move in Maryland to try to make that process of buying tickets more transparent. State lawmakers in Annapolis passed legislation to make it clear how tickets on resale sites, such as SeatGeek and StubHub, are actually sold, and what the seller of the company has to disclose about the tickets.

State Sen. Dawn Gile sponsored the legislation. She joined WTOP’s Shawn Anderson and Anne Kramer on Wednesday to discuss it.

Listen to the interview now or read the transcript below. The transcript below has been lightly edited for clarity.

State Senator Dawn Gile speaks to WTOP's Shawn Anderson and Anne Kramer about transparency in ticket reselling.

Anne Kramer: Senator, thanks for joining us, can you give us the 10-cent tour of what this bill tries to do and how it will work to help those of us that can go to those concerts, hopefully and those sporting events this summer?

Dawn Gile: This bill does, essentially, four main things. So, the first thing it does is require greater transparency in ticket prices. So, this would require each step of the transaction, a lot of times we have this like this frustration, when you go to buy a ticket, it shows an amount on the first page, you get to that last page, and just about ready to buy the ticket. And all of a sudden, there’s all these fees that are added on to it.

Also, you may not know exactly where the seat location is. So, there’s a lack of clarity as the information that you’re given for these tickets at the outset. This would require that greater transparency from the beginning. It would also ban speculative tickets.

Now this is something that I learned about in the course of doing this bill is that these are tickets that people don’t actually own, and they will go to sell the ticket and create false urgency.

On these secondary sites, it can happen even before the tickets go on sale at the primary market. We worked closely with Merriweather Post Pavilion, one of our big concert venues here in Maryland, and they said that this has been a really frustrating issue because it leads to driving up ticket prices.

Another part of this bill is that it would make certain requirements for refunds — your show’s canceled, you got to get your money back. And then finally it would require the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division to do a study on the ticketing market here in Maryland and make some recommendations as to what we can do in the future to remove a lot of that deception that occurs here in the ticketing industry.

Shawn Anderson: Senator, assuming the governor will sign this into law, what can we as consumers do? And what should we look for when it comes to buying tickets from the other sites that are not the actual venues?

Dawn Gile: Just make sure that when you go to buy a ticket that are not from the actual venue, that you’re buying a ticket from a reputable place.

Another thing that we learned about are deceptive URLs. Now this happened here in Annapolis. The local Annapolis ballet company was doing a Nutcracker production around the time of the holidays, and we heard a lot of complaints from certain consumers that they would go online looking for tickets in order to purchase a nutcracker.

A grandmother wants to take her grandkids to see this Nutcracker performance and tickets were going for $250, when you could buy them directly from the venue for $20, $30, much, much less than what secondary ticket markets were trying to sell them for. And a lot of them were using what’s called deceptive URLs.

And these are websites that make you think that you’re getting them from the primary market but are not really the primary market. So, I would just caution when people are going online to buy tickets, do a little bit of comparison shopping. But also make sure when you are looking at it that these sources are indeed reputable sources.

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