Primary, secondary ticket sellers at odds over state legislation


ATLANTA – A four-hour Georgia House committee hearing Monday pitted primary sellers of tickets to concerts and sporting events against secondary sellers.

Legislation introduced in the House this year would remove restrictions in current state law that prohibit ticket purchasers from reselling their tickets.

The bill is aimed at primary ticket sellers that prohibit consumers from reselling their tickets on the secondary market, state Rep. Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners, told members of the House Regulated Industries Committee. Hilton said such restrictions create monopolies that drive up ticket prices.

“I care about consumers,” he said. “I want them to be able to resell wherever they want.”

“It’s important to give consumers a choice,” added Sean Auyash, a representative of StubHub, one of the nation’s leading secondary ticket sellers.

But representatives of the entertainment and sports industries argued the bill would benefit secondary ticket sellers that resell tickets at marked-up prices at the expense of musical artists and sports teams.

“This is not helping consumers,” said Mala Sharma, president of Georgia Music Partners, the state’s leading music industry advocacy organization. “This bill is only helping the secondary markets get their hands on more tickets.”

Peter Conlon, chairman of concert operator Live Nation Georgia, told the committee major artists including Taylor Swift make the best seats to their concerts non-transferable to protect their fans by keeping them out of the hands of secondary sellers.

“It’s the only thing that’s going to protect from fans really being gouged,” he said.

Ronald Gaither, a lawyer representing the Atlanta Braves, Falcons, Hawks, and Atlanta United, said a Cobb County court ruled in favor of the Braves last week in a lawsuit brought by a ticket buyer who challenged the team’s policy that seeks to discourage scalping by limiting fans from buying more than 19 tickets to a game.

“These seats are revokable licenses,” he said. “(When) you buy a ticket, that’s your seat. You don’t get any property rights.”

Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, the committee’s chairman, said in the age of technology, ticket buying and selling has become a complicated issue driven by big money.

“I think there is some middle ground in this,” he said. “The problem is to determine where that would be.”

Powell said he plans to hold at least one more hearing on the legislation before the next regular session of the General Assembly begins in January.