Newly introduced House bill promises implementation of “Federal Rules for the Broken Ticket Market”

Photo credit: Ronald Woan / CC from 2.0

A newly introduced House bill, the BOSS and SWIFT Act, promises to implement “federal rules for the broken ticket market” to “finally contain the runaway ticket market.”

Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-06), member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, have presented their updates BOSS and SWIFT Act legislation to ensure the much-demanded transparency and regulation in the ticket market for live events.

The law is named in honor of New Jersey legend Bruce Springsteen and fans of Taylor Swift who were banned from buying concert tickets during a recent ticketing fiasco. The revised plan specifically addresses hidden fees, transparency on sales, buyer protection, speculative tickets and deceptive “white label” websites.

Congressmen Pascrell and Pallone first offered an early version of this law in 2009, when Garden State fans flooded the congressional bureaus with complaints after being directed to secondary locations with inflated prices when trying to buy Springsteen tour tickets. Pascrell was one of the pioneers in calling for regulation of the live event 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 US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, urging them to revise federal guidelines to make it easier to reverse “bad mergers.” As part of the agencies’ joint investigation into modernizing merger rules, Pascrell called the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger “a poster child for a failed consolidation” and called for its resolution.

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

“Millions of American fans have been deprived of a fair ticket replacement for far too long and are crying out for relief,” said Congressman Pascrell. “The recent experience of Taylor Swift fans being banned from their tour is not new, and Swifties are only the latest victims of Ticketmaster’s policies and a broken market.”

“For decades, the ticket market was the Wild West: huge, opaque, speculative and brutally unfair. A fan shouldn’t have to sell a kidney or mortgage a house to see their favorite artist or team,” Pascrell continues. “It’s finally time to create rules for fair ticketing in this country and my legislation will do just that for all fans. Thank you to my good friend, Congressman Pallone, for his continued support of this important ticketing reform bill.”

“Consumers deserve to be able to enjoy their favorite artists and live entertainment without breaking the bank. It’s high time to update the ticket marketplace to ensure it’s fair, transparent and works for ticket buyers – not ticketmasters or resellers,” added Congressman Pallone.

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

The requirements for the primary ticket seller, the secondary ticket seller and the secondary ticket sales marketplace include mandatory flat pricing to ensure that the ticket price is clearly displayed and does not change upon checkout.

In addition, clear disclosures of refund policies and guarantees are required so that consumers can choose between a full refund or a replacement ticket at a comparable or improved location if a ticket is undelivered. In addition, it is mandatory to inform buyers whether a ticket is offered as a first or second sale.