Fans First Act: New bill aims to address flaws in live event ticketing system

Six senators have introduced a new bill which aims to address "flaws in the current live event ticketing system." 

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX), along with co-sponsors Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Peter Welch (D-VT), said the Fans First Act would increase transparency in ticket sales, protect consumers from fake or overpriced tickets and will hold bad actors who engage in illegal ticket sales, accountable. 

"Buying a ticket to see your favorite artist or team is out of reach for too many Americans," said Klobuchar in a news release. "Bots, hidden fees, and predatory practices are hurting consumers whether they want to catch a home game, an up-and-coming artist or a major headliner like Taylor Swift or Bad Bunny. From ensuring fans get refunds for canceled shows to banning speculative ticket sales, this bipartisan legislation will improve the ticketing experience." 

The bill would not only clearly break down the cost of tickets, but would also state the terms and conditions of purchase as well as whether or not the tickets are being sold by the original seller. 

The Fans First Act would also strengthen the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act to further prohibit the use of bots to purchase online tickets. 

FILE - In this photo illustration, a Ticketmaster website is shown on a computer screen. ( Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Some bad actors use software to quickly bulk-buy tickets for resale at much higher prices. They will even sell tickets before they have them, a practice known as "speculative ticketing" that consumer groups say is dangerous and does not guarantee the ticket. Some go so far as to mimic venue websites so consumers believe they are buying tickets directly. 

Civil penalties would be imposed on resellers engaging in these types of sales practices and the  Fans First Act would make way for a new website for fans to file complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

The new bill comes after Ticketmaster’s fiasco last year when demand for tickets to see Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen crashed their website and subsequently hiked prices exponentially. 

Today, nearly all tickets are sold online and downloaded to phones or other devices. Consumers often don’t know how much they will pay until just before they click the purchase button and fees and charges, which can sometimes be almost as much as the ticket price, are applied. 

Venues often don’t say how many seats are available for a specific event, according to consumer groups, but instead release tickets in batches, making consumers spend more out of the mistaken fear they’ll miss out. 

Some states, including New York and Connecticut, have passed bills to ban hidden fees. But all of the major players in the ticketing industry have already agreed to do that, minimizing its impact. 

Addressing the other problems has been more difficult. Sharp disagreements among venues, ticket sellers, consumer groups and artists have muddied what may be seemingly straightforward consumer rights issues. 

"Live concerts and sporting events are beloved American pastimes and pay dividends to our local economy. It’s important that every ticket holder can access these events without fear of exploitation by scammers," said Welch. "The Fans First Act will help protect American consumers from the financial harms of price gouging by banning speculative tickets and deceptive URLs, in addition to requiring all-in pricing be listed up front. This legislation will strengthen consumer protection by establishing refund requirements for customers impacted by fraud, helping to ensure that everyone can enjoy live events without worrying about the security of their ticket." 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.