Today, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a new report about ticket scalping — aka ticket resale — which is the result of a three-year investigation. The report is long, but Schneiderman’s takeaway? “Ticketing is a fixed game.”
Thanks for the update! Of course, scalping has been a political hot-button issue for-fucking-ever in New York State (and elsewhere), in large part because it resonates strongly with constituents while also being complicated and divisive enough to warrant almost no actual government intervention.
For instance, elected officials were reportedly “horrified” that some profit-minded opportunists were putting massive markups on tickets they had obtained for free to witness Pope Francis’ procession through Central Park last fall. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees have battled endlessly with online ticket resellers … not to protect the consumer, but the organization’s bottom line: Generally speaking, you can buy Yankees tickets on StubHub for less money than they’ll run you at the box office. In all cases, the resale cost is reflective of the supply and demand, which is how life works in a free-market economy — HOWEVER, it probably goes without saying that nobody likes paying two or three times above face value for tickets to see Iron Maiden (speaking from personal experience here).
All that said, enacting any sort of ticket-resale regulation is a lose-lose for the government. StubHub is a multi-billion-dollar business that pays taxes on its revenue. Plus? High-volume ticket resellers have to report that income to the IRS. Also? All ticket brokers have to pay for licenses ($5,000 per year in New York State). And of course, the original ticket seller has to pay taxes on the initial ticket sale. What’s more, it would cost the government money just to enforce any regulations, which is doubly problematic because — as the New York Times noted back in 2001 — “Local law enforcement officials have found it difficult to prosecute scalping cases because it is often hard to explain to juries who the aggrieved parties are in such transactions are.”
And who are the aggrieved parties? The people who willingly paid for those tickets? Or the millions of people who wanted to see Pope Francis in Central Park but weren’t able to obtain tickets? (Note: Only 80,000 tickets were made available to that particular event.)
Still, it makes for good headlines. So here we go again! The new report is titled “Why Can’t New Yorkers Get Tickets?” and it officially confirms what everyone already knows:
• Some resellers use sophisticated bots to elude Ticketmaster’s verification software and scoop up hundreds of seats within milliseconds of them going on sale.
• Some venues tie up high percentages of tickets for presale or holds.
The use of bots is illegal, but very difficult to police. There’s nothing illegal about those presale and hold tickets. Says Schneiderman:
My office will continue to crack down on those who break our laws, prey on ordinary consumers and deny New Yorkers affordable access to the concerts and sporting events they love. This investigation is just the beginning of our efforts to create a level playing field in the ticket industry.
What will that entail?
Well, per Bloomberg:
[Schneiderman] is vowing to crack down on ticket resellers and proposing that the state impose a cap on what they charge … The report doesn’t say what markups on tickets should be limited to, only that they should be “reasonable.”
Per the Times;
The report makes a number of recommendations, including asking concert promoters to be more transparent about how tickets are released to the public, and encouraging secondary ticket markets [such as StubHub] to police their systems more thoroughly.
It sounds like this will be effective! Meanwhile, Adele tickets are going for $4k despite her best intentions, and these sweet J’s will run you $30k on eBay, and you don’t even wanna know what I paid for Hamilton tickets. Thanks Obama!