Ticket Scalping legislation passed during Senate special session
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Ticket Scalping legislation passed during Senate special session

Date: August 30, 2007
By: Lucie Wolken
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The "regular guy" caught a major break today in ticket sales in the Missouri State Senate special session.

He did, at least, according to Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee's Summit.

A bill including a provision to legalize ticket scalping in the state of Missouri passed by a vote of 25-7 late Wednesday night during a special session called to discuss economic development and bridge safety in the state.

Under the bill, selling a ticket at above face value became a legalized activity, repealing the longstanding Missouri law.  Previously, Missouri was among the less than a dozen states to prohibit the practice.

While the scalping industry has operated underground successfully, proponents of the bill provision believe that it's passage will bring the "regular guy" into the market by de-criminalizing his participation.

"We want to make sure that the guy out there that has a couple extra tickets and has to resell them is not hauled off to jail," Bartle, sponsor of the provision, said.  "It makes no sense that we would turn people into criminals for simply wanting to resell a ticket."

But opponents of the bill argue that organizations like Ticketmaster stand to gain the most, not the average consumer.

"Why is Ticketmaster so excited to get the legislation passed?  I don't think they are going to leave any money on the table," Rep. Trent Skaggs, D-Clay, said. 

Skaggs referred to a study completed by the New York attorney general that said tickets sales on average were 150 to 450 percent higher than the face value.  

"Obviously, that money is going to come out of somebody's pocket and that is going to be the tax payers and the consumers," Skaggs said.

Sports teams will also benefit from the passage of this legislation, according to Michael Naughton, vice president of finance and ticketing for the St. Louis Rams, because they will now be able to become a player in this already lively market. 

"It is going on right now, if we sit here and do nothing, we are sitting here with our heads in the sand.  It's going on," Naughton said.  "The only ones who are not able to participate in this huge mushrooming market are the teams that are willing to abide by the existing state law, so you are excluding your major teams and your existing venues in the state."

According to Naughton, ticket holders will now have a venue to resell their tickets at the true market value.

Under previous law, scalpers could be fined anywhere from $50- $1000 and serve between 15 days to one year in county jail, depending on their number of offenses. 

Representatives for the St. Louis Cardinals, Rams, and Blues as well as the Kansas City Chiefs spoke out in support of the legalization in a committee session Monday. 

Supporters of this repeal argue that ticket prices have the potential to fall.  With the passage of the bill, venues like Ticketmaster will provide a forum for the resale of tickets above face value. 

Sen. John Loudon, R-St. Louis County, sponsored a similar amendment in the last legislative session to limit the number of tickets one person could purchase, which passed but was then vetoed by the governor. 

Some Democrats charge that this provision should not be in the special session because the governor's brother, Andy Blunt, is a Ticketmaster lobbyist.

Blunt said he has reclused himself from lobbying in the executive branch.

While Loudon is in support of this provision he says that it is important to ensure that the consumer does not lose out.

"If it's impossible for Joe six-pack to take his family to the game because he is priced out, then I will be sorely disappointed in what has happened and we will have to revisit it.," Loudon said.

But supporters of the provision say that ticket prices could fall as a result of the repeal, as the supply increases and the demand remains constant.

In addition to ticket sellers, Naughton says that Missouri stands to benefit from the repeal as new business will be encouraged in the state, which is currently missing out on revenue..

"Brokers are sitting on the other side of the river in Illinois and on the other side of the river in Kansas because it is legal for them to do this business outside of the state," Naughton said. 

As Missouri heads into baseball playoffs as well as regulation football season, new players will be entering the ticket scalping market with new freedoms.   

"We are creating a huge ripple in the marketplace in Missouri," Loudon said.  "I hope nobody gets rolled over."