Is Ticket Scalping Illegal?


Authored by Tanya Nusser in Legal
Published on 09-04-2009

A ticket scalper is a person or business who buys concert and event tickets and then sells the same tickets at a higher price than face value to individuals who cannot purchase tickets directly through the event‘s box office. While ticket scalpers are usually less than upstanding citizens to say the least, there is no federal law that makes ticket scalping an offence.

Most events that scalpers attend are extremely crowded with hundreds, if not thousands, of spectators. Ticket scalpers are very aware that there are only so many police and enforcement officers stationed at these events, so they cannot see everything that goes on at all times. The scalpers use this to their advantage and blend in to the crowd so that it is harder for police to catch them in the act. Also, the laws are so blurred in most cases that it is easier for law enforcement to just look the other way.

While there is no federal law prohibiting ticket scalping, many states and local municipalities do make the practice illegal. The problem is that these rules are rarely enforced as there really is no victim in the crime since purchasers know they are purchasing tickets that cost more than their value. Some states try to control the ticket scalping market by making scalpers purchase a special license to sell the above face value tickets.

Traditional ticket scalpers make it a point to hang out outside the event destination that they have hot tickets for, preying on individuals who are desperate to get in to the event. The buyers of these tickets know that purchasing scalped tickets is wrong, but they do so anyway out of pure desperation. So, even though this practice is illegal, the event go-er gets what they want and the ticket seller gets to pocket the cash. This is why the practice of ticket scalping is not seen as an urgent problem to fix.

The Internet has made enforcing scalping practices more difficult with more and more ticket selling websites popping up online every year. These sites are now regulated and must pay taxes on their profits, making them more or less, in legal practice. The big problem with these sites is that they purchase large amounts of tickets for the sole purpose of reselling them at an exorbitant mark up on the original price of the ticket. Many claim that these practices alone should be illegal because these websites are preventing fans from purchasing these tickets at their original asking price.

Many companies have also decided that if they can not beat the scalpers, they will join forces with them. Many concert promoters now sell blocks of tickets directly to ticket selling websites knowing that these sites are going to raise the prices of their events to exuberant rates.

Yes, ticket scalping is technically a Federal crime, but stings to shut down these operations are few and far between. Breaking up ticket scalping rings takes money and resources that most cities just do not have to put in to victimless crimes such as these.


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