Face Value

Legal scalping makes concert going impossible for students


Minnah Zaheer, Editor


Ticket scalping, or the buying and reselling of tickets at a higher price than face value, is a phenomenon with increasing prevalence in the world of event goers everywhere. When a popular event is announced, many fans get ready to buy tickets as soon as they go on sale. However, even when someone spends hours on a website ready for a countdown to end, sometimes only seconds pass before better seats are completely gone, and sometimes the entire venue sells out. I personally experienced this recently, when trying to buy tickets for a friend to a Panic! At the Disco concert. I waited until right when the countdown reached zero and entered the security code (which claims to prevent bots from purchasing tickets to resell). Even though only seconds had passed since tickets officially went on sale, there were none available. Outraged, I waited a few minutes and checked one of the most well-known ticket resale websites, StubHub. Sure enough, tickets for that same concert were available, but at over $100 more than face value.

Why does this happen? The most fundamentally obvious reason (and one of the most complicated) is the lack of regulation on ticket sales from a legal standpoint. In the United States, laws addressing ticket scalping are vague and nondescript. Only 15 states have restrictions on scalping: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. Because the nation is divided on the issue of ticket scalping, laws in these states really don’t help with the issue: scalping tickets for an event in a state with prohibitions on scalping is completely legal if you resell the tickets in another state. For example, in Texas, one can purchase tickets to an event happening in Ohio and resell them in Texas, and because Texas doesn’t regulate ticket reselling, the process is completely legal. Additionally, most states don’t prohibit the reselling of tickets through online resellers. Websites like StubHub, which only exist in order to facilitate the reselling of tickets almost always above face value, are perfectly legal. Arizona only prevents ticket scalping within 200 feet of the venue where the event takes place, and the person attempting to resell the tickets can inflate their price by any percentage they wish as long as they do so from just over 200 feet away from the event venue. At a professional level, ticket scalpers can return a huge profit while exploiting the weaknesses of people who just don’t have the technology or resources to buy tickets immediately.

At the same time, however, ticket scalping isn’t all bad. The entire function of ticket reselling is to make sure as many people as possible attend an event, even if this is sometimes carried out maliciously. I know I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to resort to websites like StubHub in order to secure tickets to an event, and usually the prices aren’t significantly higher than they would have been at face value (and when they are, they generally don’t end up selling).

Regardless, ticket scalping is a prevalent issue that needs to be addressed in order to make sure that concerts, sports, and other events are entertaining to as wide an audience and as full a venue as possible.