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Post date: May 27 1999

Spitzer Issues Report On Ticket Sales

Attorney General Spitzer today issued a report containing recommendations to clean up the sale of tickets to sporting events, Broadway shows and concerts throughout New York State.

In releasing the 60-page report, entitled "Why Can't I Get Tickets?" Spitzer said: "You shouldn't have to be wealthy or well-connected in order to get good seats to entertainment shows and events. But unfortunately, that's often exactly the way it is in New York because the ticket selling industry is rife with corruption and bribery."

As part of the investigation, the Attorney General's office issued over 200 subpoenas for documents and testimony among those involved in the buying and selling of tickets.

The findings include the following:

  • The most harmful aspect to consumers is the illegal practice of ticket brokers paying substantial bribes, known as 'ice' to various people who have control over tickets at their source;
  • Tickets to popular events are systematically diverted to ticket brokers by box office employees, venue managers and promoters;
  • The best seats for events are often unfairly withheld from the public;
  • Ticket speculation is a huge business producing gross revenues of millions of dollars a year for certain premium ticket brokers.

"This is a problem throughout the state," Spitzer said. "Whether it's trying to get tickets for a big game in Buffalo, a popular concert in Binghamton, or a hot show on Broadway, the public has virtually no opportunity of securing good seats at face value no matter how long they wait on line or how many times they call."

"Once tickets go on sale, the often illegal alliance between those selling the tickets and ticket brokers conspires to shut out the public at the box office. The public is then left with two choices: either pay exorbitant prices for seats, or if they choose not to do that, then not see the event at all."

Spitzer made the following recommendations:

  • The payment and receipt of 'ice,' currently a misdemeanor, should be upgraded to a felony;
  • The diversion of tickets from the public to ticket brokers by employees or agents of a venue should be illegal, even without proof of bribery;
  • The sale of 20 or more tickets or tickets totaling more than $1,000 over the statutory limit should be a Class E felony, similar to larceny when the value of stolen property exceeds $1,000;
  • The statutory cap on the price of tickets should be raised to permit licensed ticket brokers who do not pay bribes to make a reasonable profit. State law currently limits the resale of tickets to a maximum of $5 or ten percent above face value;
  • The identity of a ticket seller should be ascertainable either by an identifying code printed on the face of the ticket or by requiring such identification to be retained in the computer;
  • The number of tickets available for public sale for any event should be disclosed to the public.

"We feel that these changes will help open up the process and give the public a much better, and fairer shot, to buy good seats to events at reasonable prices," said Spitzer. "I am urging the State Legislature to act on these changes on the public's behalf."