Newly-Introduced House Bill Promises to Implement ‘Federal Rules for the Broken Ticket Market’

broken ticket market
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broken ticket market
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Photo Credit: Ronald Woan / CC by 2.0

A newly-introduced House bill, ‘BOSS and SWIFT Act,’ promises to implement ‘federal rules for the broken ticket market’ to ‘finally rein in the out-of-control ticket marketplace.’

Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-06) have introduced their updated BOSS and SWIFT Act legislation to provide much-requested transparency and regulation to the live events ticket marketplace.

The legislation is named in honor of New Jersey legend Bruce Springsteen and fans of Taylor Swift, who were barred from buying concert tickets during a recent ticketing marketplace fiasco. The revised plan explicitly addresses hidden fees, on-sale transparency, buyer protections, speculative tickets, and deceptive “white label” websites.

Congressmen Pascrell and Pallone first offered an early version of this legislation in 2009, when Garden State fans flooded congressional offices with complaints after they were directed to secondary sites with inflated prices while trying to buy Springsteen tour tickets. Pascrell has been a leader in calling for regulation of the live events ticketing market and an early critic of the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger.

On March 22, 2022, Rep. Pascrell wrote to the heads of the FTC and the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, urging them to overhaul federal guidelines to make it easier to overturn “bad mergers.” As part of the agencies’ joint inquiry into modernizing merger regulations, Pascrell flagged the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger as a “posterchild of consolidation gone bad” and urged for its dissolution.

Two months later, Pascrell and Pallone wrote a letter to the FTC highlighting a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study which found many consumer protection and competition issues in the primary and secondary live event ticketing markets.

“For too long, millions of American fans have been unable to get a fair shake for their tickets and cry out for relief,” says Congressman Pascrell. “The recent experience of Taylor Swift fans being locked out of her tour is not new, and Swifties are just the latest victims of Ticketmaster’s policies and a broken market.”

“For decades, the ticket market has been the Wild West: mammoth, opaque, speculative, and brutally unfair. A fan shouldn’t have to sell a kidney or mortgage a house to see their favorite performer or team,” Pascrell continues. “At long last, it is time to create rules for fair ticketing in this country, and my legislation will do exactly that for all the fans. I thank my good friend Congressman Pallone for continuing to support this important ticket marketplace reform bill.”

“Consumers deserve to enjoy their favorite artists and live entertainment without breaking the bank. It’s past time to update the ticket marketplace to ensure it’s fair, transparent, and working for ticket buyers — not Ticketmaster or resellers,” adds Congressman Pallone. 

“That’s why I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor of Rep. Pascrell’s BOSS and SWIFT Act, which will help protect consumers when they buy tickets from ticket sellers and resellers. I thank Rep. Pascrell for his longstanding leadership on this issue that’s so important to New Jerseyans and all Americans.”

Requirements on the primary ticket seller, secondary ticket seller, and secondary ticket sales marketplace include mandatory all-in pricing to ensure the ticket price is displayed clearly and does not change during check-out. 

Further, clear disclosures of refund policies will be required, and guarantees for consumers to have the choice of a full refund or a replacement ticket in a comparable or upgraded location if a ticket is not delivered. Additionally, disclosing to buyers whether a ticket is being offered as a primary or secondary sale will be mandatory.