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Hawaii takes aim at exclusive ticketing contracts

Senate Bill 1534 would prohibit any "place of entertainment that is funded through … state or county funds" from agreeing exclusive ticketing deals

By Jon Chapple on 01 Feb 2019

Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii, is a Ticketmaster client

Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu is a Ticketmaster client

image © Pacific Industrial Coatings LLC

A bill that would prevent venues that receive public funding from partnering exclusively with one ticket agency has been introduced in Hawaii.

SB 1534 – tabled on 24 January by Hawaii Senate president Ron Kouchi, and referred to the Senate’s Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health (CPH) Committee on 28 January after passing its first reading – would prohibit any “place of entertainment that is funded through public donations, state or county funds” from “entering into exclusive ticketing contracts with primary sellers”.

The prohibition would affect all of Hawaii’s major venues, including the 8,800-capacity Blaisdell Arena, owned by the city of Honolulu (and exclusively ticketed by Ticketmaster), the 10,300-seat Stan Sheriff Center, owned by the University of Hawaii and utilising the university’s own eTicketHawaii portal; and Aloha Stadium (50,000-cap.), another Ticketmaster partner, run by the publicly owned Hawaii Stadium Authority.

SB 1534 would also require venues to report how many tickets will be put on sale for any given event, as well as any details on holdbacks – similar to proposed legislation in Ontario, Canada, later abandoned amid opposition from the live industry.

SB 1534 would also require venues to require how many tickets will be put on sale for any given event

If passed, the legislation would “mean more artists appearing at venues, a larger diversity of events, and more local jobs and revenue for Hawaiian residents,” Scot X. Esdaile, president of ticket resellers’ association the US Minority Ticketing Group, tells Ticket News.

Unlike in Europe and elsewhere, where the open ticket distribution model is prevalent, the majority of large venues in the US are tied to a single ticket provider, with volume sellers such as Ticketmaster, AXS and See Tickets handing over huge amounts of cash upfront to venues to sell their tickets exclusively.

This model was cited as a key in factor in Amazon Tickets’ undoing when it called off its US launch a year ago, and exclusive ticketing deals have also drawn attention from authorities in territories where they are less common, such as Germany and South Africa.


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