Legal Alerts

The TICKET Act Unpacked

Washington, D.C. (May 28, 2024) – The Transparency in Charges for Key Events Ticketing (TICKET) Act, legislation recently passed by the United States House of Representatives, aims to reform the ticketing industry and enhance transparency for consumers. Introduced in 2023 by Representatives Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), the TICKET Act received considerable bipartisan support, passing the House with a vote of 388-24 in May 2024, following unanimous approval by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in December 2023.

While the House has passed the TICKET Act, it still needs to be passed by the Senate before reaching the president’s desk for signature. If enacted, the legislation will mandate that ticket sellers display all-inclusive pricing upfront, including all additional fees and taxes, in advertisements, marketing, and promotional materials, as well as on any price list wherever the ticket is offered for sale, to clearly provide the total cost of tickets. This will eliminate the common practice of revealing additional fees only at checkout and mirrors similar fee transparency guidelines instituted for airline ticket sellers. The TICKET Act will also curb speculative ticketing, a practice by which sellers advertise tickets they do not actually possess. The Act would prohibit secondary market ticket issuers from offering tickets for sale or marketing their services as such, but would allow them to instead offer their services in procuring event tickets on behalf of consumers. In this type of transaction, sellers would be required to clearly disclose that the tickets are not yet in the seller's possession and that the seller cannot guarantee a ticket.

Additional provisions in the Act aim to ban deceptive websites and marketing practices often used by secondary ticket sellers. Examples of such deceptive tactics include creating websites that mimic the branding and appearance of official primary ticket sellers or venues, using URLs or website names that closely resemble such primary sources, employing countdown timers or urgency claims that falsely suggest limited-time offers, and presenting sponsored advertising links as neutral recommendations.

In the case of cancelled or postponed events, the Act will also require sellers to provide full refunds or, for postponed events, to issue replacement tickets in the same or a comparable location when the event has been rescheduled, so long as the seller has secured the consumer’s approval. The Act does provide an exception for situations outside the reasonable control of the ticket issuer (i.e., natural disasters or civil disturbances).

Potential Penalties

The legislation empowers the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take enforcement action against violators of the Act. Specific penalties would depend on the nature of the infraction but could include fines, injunctions, and consumer redress orders, among others.

Compliance with the TICKET Act

To avoid these consequences, ticket sellers may want to adopt several guidelines in order to comply with the Act. First and foremost, they must display all pricing upfront, clearly and conspicuously showing the full cost of the ticket, including all fees and taxes, in advertisements and listings. Sellers should also avoid speculative ticketing practices by listing and selling only those tickets that they actually have in their possession or control, or prominently disclosing if they do not yet have the tickets being sold.

Additionally, secondary ticket sellers should avoid creating deceptive websites or URLs that mimic official venues, artists, or authorized sellers in an attempt to mislead consumers. They should use clear branding distinct from primary sellers and clearly identify themselves as resellers upfront. Sellers must also have transparent refund policies in place, providing full refunds for canceled events and obtaining buyer approval before issuing replacement tickets for postponed events.

To ensure transparent pricing and compliance with the TICKET Act, ticket sellers should provide an itemized breakdown of the base ticket price and each additional fee before a buyer selects a ticket. They should also promptly furnish proof of purchase, order information, and delivery details to buyers within 24 hours if required. Sellers should look out for the Senate’s vote on the Act and, if ultimately enacted, they should stay updated on rules, enforcement actions, and guidance from the FTC regarding TICKET Act compliance.

Conclusion

The TICKET Act has received support from consumer advocacy groups, artists, and industry associations who believe it will level the playing field for fans and increase fairness in the ticketing marketplace. By adhering to practices around transparent all-inclusive pricing, itemized fee disclosure, speculative ticket disclaimers, refund policies, and avoiding deceptive marketing, ticket resellers can mitigate legal risks under the TICKET Act. Clear consumer information is paramount, and erring on the side of transparency is advisable for ticket sellers to ensure compliance with the proposed legislation. 

For more information on the legislation, contact the authors or editor of this alert. Visit our Entertainment, Media & Sports Practice page to learn more about our capabilities in this area. 

Authors:

Sarkis Yeretsian, Associate

Christina Stylianou, Associate

Editor:

Richard A. Beyman, Partner and Vice-Chair of Entertainment, Media & Sports Practice

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