-By Myron Martin
I always enjoy writing for Vegas Legal Magazine about the arts, education and community building. I think that everyone knows I am not a lawyer but, today I get to write about something that bridges the arts and entertainment with the law.
The Nevada Legislature recently passed an unfair trade practices bill related to the business of ticket reselling. For years Clark County has had an ordinance making it illegal for scalpers to do business in and around an entertainment property. In other words, they cannot walk up to you in the parking lot and offer to sell you tickets. However, the world-wide web has changed the way people buy and sell things. Today, people are much more likely to get taken advantage of on an online classified advertisement than in a parking lot somewhere. SB235, which was just signed into law by Governor Sandoval does a number of things: It restates the Federal law passed in December outlawing internet robots from buying up all of the good seats before the general public gets a chance to purchase. And, to that end it also makes it illegal to employ another person to wait in line to buy tickets for the purpose of reselling the tickets. This should help fans.
I must say that after spending a great deal of time in Carson City this session, I have a whole new level of respect and appreciation for the men and women who serve our state in the legislature. These legislators, with varied backgrounds, educations, skill sets and experiences are asked to maneuver through a nearly impossible range of issues. Not one, for example, was a ticketing expert. But, the body of capable and caring citizens did their homework and passed a bill that will protect consumers. As we say in the theater, bravo!
SB235 also makes it illegal to resell more than one copy of the same ticket. This happens all the time in Las Vegas, and around the country. When dishonest people purchase an electronic ticket for a specific seat and then sell it (multiple times) it causes unsuspecting ticket buyers to be turned away for holding invalid and fraudulent tickets. This defies the laws of physics as well as the laws relating to fraud. Our friends at Cirque tell me that they see millions of dollars in fraudulent tickets each year. Imagine buying tickets for your family to see a great show on the strip only to find out that your tickets are invalid. You are out the money and you can’t see the show. The nice people at Cirque try to accommodate people when possible, but must turn people away when they are sold out.
They have no choice. And remember they weren’t paid a penny for these “extra” tickets. This is embarrassing to the ticket buyer and to the venue.
The bill which was supported by gaming, entertainment companies, professional sports, law enforcement, and even some professional ticketing resellers, also prohibits brokers from using a trademarked or copyrighted URL, title, designation, image, mark or other symbol owned by the venue and their artists, or to pretend to be the official venue site. To avoid confusion, they must state on their web site that they are a secondary ticketing broker.
The lawyers are probably saying that there are already laws relating to intellectual property and other fraudulent activities (such as buying something once and selling it multiple times). That may be true, but now there are specific laws relating to the resale of tickets in the Entertainment Capital of the World. The law now allows for declaratory and injunctive relief for anyone injured by these unfair trade practices, and provides consumers with a telephone hotline and internet site where they can file ticket fraud complaints.
To be clear, you have the right to resell your tickets for an entertainment or sporting event in the event that your plans change. This bill doesn’t prohibit the legitimate resale of tickets, and is in no way an anti-secondary ticketing bill. It simply makes it more difficult for the bad actors to continue to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers.
There are many well-intentioned ticket brokers in Las Vegas who provide a service to out of town clients looking for hard to find tickets. I’ve personally purchased tickets from the Stub Hub and Ticketmaster secondary ticketing sites for prices above the face value for out of town sporting events. Why? Because I like the convenience of buying online and knowing that I will have a ticket before I board the plane. However, I always start with the primary ticketing site before going to the secondary ticketing sites, and I believe all ticket buyers should beware of potential fraud when dealing with people offering to sell you something on the internet.
Myron G. Martin is president and chief executive officer of The Smith Center. Martin earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of North Texas, and an MBA from Golden Gate University. A proud Las Vegan, Martin calls Henderson home with his wife Dana Rogers Martin and daughter Molly.
The Firm, P.C. is a boutique Las Vegas law firm founded by Preston Rezaee, Esq. Preston Rezaee is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Vegas Legal Magazine.