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Congress to probe ‘potentially unfair and deceptive practices’ in ticket industry

Dodger fans purchase tickets outside Dodger Stadium.
Dodger fans purchase tickets outside Dodger Stadium.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

A Congressional committee launched an investigation Thursday into what it called “potentially unfair and deceptive practices in the live event ticketing industry.”

Six leading ticket and event companies — including AEG, StubHub, Live Nation and Vivid Seats — were asked to provide documents explaining how tickets are allocated, how fees are determined and disclosed, whether tickets might be placed exclusively on the secondary market, and how customers can have a fair chance to buy a ticket at face value.

Six members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — three Democrats and three Republicans — signed the letter to each company. The companies also were asked to schedule briefings with the committees by Dec. 12.

“The Committee, which has broad jurisdiction over consumer protection issues, is concerned about potentially unfair and deceptive practices occurring in the primary and secondary ticket marketplace, many of which have been documented in consumer complaints, press stories, and government reports,” the letters read.

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As ticket prices on the secondary market have risen for popular events, teams and event promoters have tried to capture as much of the resale value as possible. If the face value of a ticket is $40 and the resale value is $80, teams and promoters hope to price that ticket as close to $80 as possible, often using partnerships with ticket companies and market analysts.

When the Dodgers stripped brokers of the right to buy tickets before the 2018 season, four brokers sued. A court turned down the Dodgers’ initial effort to get the case dismissed, and a trial is set for 2021.

Laura Dooley, director of government relations at StubHub, said her company welcomed the Congressional examination of the ticket business.

“StubHub applauds the Committee’s investigation into the live event ticketing industry,” Dooley said in a statement. “We share the Committee’s interest in addressing anti-competitive practices. We believe that a fair and competitive ticketing industry unequivocally supports the interests of fans. We look forward to being a partner in this process.”

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An AEG spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


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