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Ticket Scalping: Should It Be Legal?

Updated on July 21, 2018
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I am the author of three middle grade children's books, and I blog on the side. My favorite topics are movies, writing, and pop culture.

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Have you found it difficult to buy tickets to your favorite events? Do you find yourself on the computer counting down the seconds until tickets become available to help ensure that you are able to get your hands on some seats? It seems like you don’t have a chance against ticket scalpers who are waiting in the wings equipped with teams of people and technology, giving them an overwhelming advantage over the average buyer.

These scalpers buy up as many of the most coveted seats that they can find to numerous events and then sell them back to the public at a huge markup. Desperate buyers will pay these extravagant prices to websites, such as StubHub, if they have their hearts set on a playoff game or big name concert while those opposed to such high prices end up losing out. It’s unfair to the consumers, yet it is generally not illegal.

Understandably, there are many more pressing topics in this country and in the world. So, the issue of ticket scalping understandably takes a back seat to these serious issues. It is also a topic with a mixture of opinions. Debate.org (http://www.debate.org/opinions/is-ticket-scalping-legitimate-or-should-it-be-banned) reports that people are generally split down the middle about the issue of ticket scalping. Some call ticket scalping price gouging while others consider it legitimate capitalism.

Also, all hope isn't lost. Typically, these bots sell their unsold tickets back to the box office just before the day of the event. So, there is still a chance for fans to scoop up tickets at a reasonable price at the last minute. It's just not something that they can count on, especially if it is an event that they really want to go to.


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Have you ever bought tickets from a scalper?

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Those opposed claim that it does not support the arts and makes seats unattainable for the average person. Those unopposed say that it is no different from department stores marking up merchandise to buyers. It also creates the opportunity for others to make money. Still, those opposed to it generally recognize that it is a first world problem about how to spend disposable, though hard-earned income, and those for it typically admit that it is immoral, despite being legal. It’s interesting how an issue can be both.

According to Australia’s The Sydney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/fans-losing-to-online-scalpers-buying-tickets-in-bulk-20130830-2swcs.html), Ticketmaster uses anti-bot technology to prevent scalpers from using bots to buy up tickets. That box that requires you to type in random letters and numbers when entering secure information on a website is actually a tool that deciphers between humans and bot purchasers. This has reduced the percentage of tickets that are being purchased by bots. These numbers can hit up to 60% of total sales for an event in The United States.

However, ticket sites such as StubHub and Tickets now have been making money and are being purchased and endorsed by other big name websites, such as eBay and TicketMaster, to help them get a cut of the profit they make in the sometimes nearly 300% mark ups that they charge consumers according to the Chicago Tribune (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-07-11/entertainment/ct-ent-0712-focus-ticket-brokers-20110711_1_gold-coast-tickets-max-waisvisz-ticket-brokers).

Given how much these sites have grown, it is unlikely that they will be going away any time soon. Until then, buying tickets to events becomes a race against technology, making competition fierce and making money for those who have the equipment to take as much as they can for themselves.


Do you believe that ticket scalping should be legal?

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Ultimately, it seems that ticket scalping will continue to dictate ticket prices. It is too difficult to prevent and too small of an issue to be given enough focus to try to make it illegal. There is also the question of whether or not it should ever be made illegal. Still, it can be a major annoyance and unnecessarily stressful situation for anyone desperate to get to their favorite shows, games and events, but like most things in life, it’s not always fair.

What is your opinion on ticket scalping?

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