Rhode Island is one of 29 states and the District of Columbia that have signed on to a federal lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment Inc., which owns Ticketmaster, alleging the company has illegally monopolized the live entertainment industry and hurt consumers and venues.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed the lawsuit Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

“Creative arts are part of the core of Rhode Island’s identity and one of the backbones of our economy,” said Rhode Island Attorney General Neronha in a statement Thursday. “It is one of my Office’s priorities to ensure our local economy is fair for our consumers, workers, and small businesses, and no place is that more important than in our marketplace for culture and live music.”

Live Nation/Ticketmaster has a substantial presence in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts. Live Nation handles ticketing for the Amica Mutual Pavilion in Providence, the Bally’s Event Center in Lincoln, as well as in Massachusetts at Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium and the Xfinity Center in Mansfield.

Live Nation’s subsidiary R.I. Waterfront Enterprises LLC is constructing the East Providence Bold Point Park amphitheater, previously scheduled to open this year. 

Long-standing complaints about Ticketmaster’s practices hit a peak in 2022 when its botched rollout of Taylor Swift tickets led to a hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the company’s role in the ticketing industry.

The suit alleges that concert-goers have paid more in fees that are not transparent, not negotiable, and cannot be price-shopped while musicians have fewer opportunities to play concerts, choose their venues, or to promote their own shows.

Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire are also among the states that are plaintiffs.

New Hampshire lawmakers have tried and failed twice in the last two years to stop ticket scalping by capping resale price to a ticket’s face value. The Senate tabled the most recent bill last month.

In a statement announcing the lawsuit, New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella said Live Nation controls ticket sales of some of the state’s largest venues, including BankNH Pavilion in Gilford and SNHU Arena in Manchester. 

“Live Nation’s dominance has particularly impacted fans who attend shows at New Hampshire venues,” Formella said. “Ticketmaster sales data shows that these fans are subject to some of the highest markup rates in the nation when it comes to the face value of a ticket versus the actual price after fees and costs are included.”

Live Nation issued a statement saying the DOJ lawsuit won’t solve issues fans care about relating to ticket prices, service fees, and access to in-demand shows.

“Calling Ticketmaster a monopoly may be a PR win for the DOJ in the short term, but it will lose in court because it ignores the basic economics of live entertainment, such as the fact that the bulk of service fees go to venues, and that competition has steadily eroded Ticketmaster’s market share and profit margin,” said Dan Wall, executive vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs for Live Nation.

“Our growth comes from helping artists tour globally, creating lasting memories for millions of fans, and supporting local economies across the country by sustaining quality jobs. We will defend against these baseless allegations, use this opportunity to shed light on the industry, and continue to push for reforms that truly protect consumers and artists.”

Live Nation’s net profit margin last fiscal year was 1.4%, a far cry from the approximately 25% and up of other DOJ targets in the tech sector like Apple and Google, the company said.

Since Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged in 2010, Ticketmaster’s market share has decreased, and more ticketing competitors have emerged, the company said.

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