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The Dripby Mark Reutter6:40 pmMar 11, 20130

Ticketmaster exempted from city anti-scalping law

Ticketmaster found 11 stalwart friends tonight as the Baltimore City Council voted to allow the region’s dominant ticket-selling “middleman” the right to charge unlimited convenience and other user fees for sports and entertainment tickets.

The vote was a foregone conclusion, despite general public hostility to the fees that can increase the price of a ticket to an Orioles game or a music concert by 15-20%.

There was no floor debate and only three dissents registered by James B. Kraft (1st District), Bill Henry (4th) and Mary Pat Clarke (14th).

Responding to Court Ruling

The Council went into action after a January ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals struck down Ticketmaster’s service fees as a violation of the city’s longstanding anti-scalping law. The law prohibits adding more than a minimal fee to the face value of a ticket by sellers.

On February 4, a bill was introduced in the council exempting “a person licensed to sell tickets or that person’s authorized agent” from the anti-scalping law, which calls for a $500 fine for citizen-sellers trying to “extract, accept or receive” more than 50 cents above the ticket’s face value.

The measure had the support of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and sailed through the Council’s Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee, whose chair, Carl Stokes, said that ending the fees could hurt city businesses because ticket vendors may not want to handle their venues.

The new law stays in effect until November 1 to give the mayor and council time to review the city’s licensing scheme for ticket sellers and to study consumer protections, taxes and service fees surrounding the sale of tickets for performances in the city.

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