NEW YORK — The icemen continue to cometh.
In a blistering 60-page report declaring that the Broadway ticketing industry is “rife with corruption and bribery,” the New York state attorney general’s office Thursday released its recommendations to clean up “ice,” bribes paid by brokers to ticket agents and venue managers to secure choice Broadway seats for resale at a premium.
Issuing more than 200 subpoenas, but stopping short of issuing any indictments, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s office will now send its report to the state legislature, a source in the AG’s office said.
Among the report’s suggestions:
- Payment or receipt of bribes should become a felony.
- The illegal sale of 20 or more tickets or of tickets totaling more than $1,000 should become a class E felony.
- The cap on the surcharge of resold tickets — currently $5, or no more than 10% of the tickets’ face value — should be raised to permit to allow brokers to make a reasonable profit.
- Ticket vendors should be registered to allow authorities to ascertain the point of sale.
“The public has virtually no shot at buying good seats at face value no matter how long they wait in line or how many times they call,” Spitzer said.
Former attorney general Dennis Vacco started the initiative a year ago, targeting Broadway’s box offices and ticket brokers as the wellspring spoiling public access to choice theater tix.
The Broadway “ice” problem, referred to as such because of the cash nature of the transactions and their tendency to “melt” away without evidence, is not new to Broadway, nor exclusive to New York.
According to a source within the attorney general’s bureau of investor protection and securities, most vendors and ice men retreated across the Hudson long ago, and they continue to operate in New Jersey beyond the attorney general’s jurisdiction.
“But we do have jurisdiction if they are dealing with buyers who are New York state residents,” said Scott Brown, a spokesman for Spitzer. “If the legislature will enact these recommendations, if the laws are stiffer and the tickets easier to track, we’ll use the power of the office to go after these people.”