Legislator aims at ticket scalpers

January 15, 1993|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,Staff Writer

Psssst! Wanna buy a ticket?

The call of the ticket scalper would be silenced under a House bill that would bar scalping.

Del. Leon Albin, a Baltimore County Democrat, said he was spurred to file the legislation when he heard about an incident last year in which someone who bought 100 Oriole tickets at $13 each sold them through a newspaper advertisement for $85 per ticket.

"I think it's wrong," Mr. Albin said yesterday, shortly before a hearing on the bill before the Economic Matters Committee. "I think it's unfair to the public. It's profiteering."

About 26 states have laws against scalping. Baltimore has a law against scalping tickets at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. A Prince George's County law bans scalping at the Capital Centre in Landover.

The proposed statewide law calls for fines of up to $500 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for a second. It would apply to amateur and professional sports events, as well as to such entertainment as plays, concerts and movies.

The measure also would apply to anyone from out of state who sells tickets to Maryland events. But the bill would exempt individuals who sell their tickets at face value, authorized ticket agents for organizations and nonprofit groups.

The bill would make a distinction between authorized agents and brokers, who buy blocks of tickets and sell them, often at higher prices. The latter would have to become licensed as vendors and could charge only the price of the ticket plus tax.

Authorized agents could levy a service charge of not more than )) $5 or 10 percent of the established ticket price. The bill sets no price limits for nonprofit groups, for example, groups that auction tickets.

Oriole Vice President Bob Aylward supported the bill in a letter to Mr. Albin, saying, "Our concern, of course, is that the average Oriole fan may be subjected to paying inflated prices for individual game tickets."

But Bruce C. Bereano, a lobbyist representing the Washington Area Ticket Brokers Association, said the bill would prevent the association's eight businesses -- including six in Maryland -- from charging what they want for tickets, forcing them to close.

"They are not scalpers," declared Mr. Bereano. "They are in business. They are brokers just like any other broker."

He labeled the measure a "ticket-fixing bill" that was "against competition and against a free market place."

And he said the law would be difficult to enforce.

Last year the Orioles sold out 67 of their 80 home games, including the last 59, said Rick Vaughn, their publicity director.

Some committee members appeared supportive. Del. Ann Marie Doory, D-Baltimore, spoke of the "free market," while committee Vice Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, D-Baltimore, said that he doubted the chances of the bill.

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