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Why Isn’t Ticket Scalping Illegal Anymore?

Ticket scalping – the act of reselling event tickets at a price higher than face value – has been a contentious issue for many years. Despite numerous attempts to regulate or fully ban the practice, it remains a prevalent phenomenon in the event industry. With the rise of the internet and the growth of secondary ticket markets, consumers have become increasingly frustrated with the cost of attending events. This raises the question: why isn’t ticket scalping illegal anymore? In this blog post, we will dissect the issue and explore the factors that have led to the current state of ticket scalping in the US.

The History of Ticket Scalping

The practice of buying and selling tickets for profit existed long before the advent of the internet. In the early days, scalpers would often buy large numbers of tickets directly from promoters or box offices and resell them at inflated prices outside the venue. This led to instances of violence and scams, and many states began to enact anti-scalping laws in the 1920s and 1930s. These laws typically made it illegal to resell tickets above face value within a certain distance of the venue, but scalpers found ways to evade the regulations, such as selling tickets outside the designated zone.

In the 1980s, the rise of the secondary ticket market – where tickets could be bought and sold online and through brokers – changed the game. This made it more difficult for authorities to track down scalpers and enforce anti-scalping laws. In addition, some event organizers and ticketing companies began to see the benefits of partnering with resale sites, as it provided more revenue opportunities and allowed them to better control the fan experience.

The Legal Framework for Ticket Scalping

The legality of ticket scalping varies by state in the US. Some states have strict anti-scalping laws, while others have few or no regulations. For example, New York prohibits the resale of tickets above face value unless authorized by the seller or the event is sold out, while Wyoming has no anti-scalping laws at all. In some states, such as California and Florida, scalping is permitted but subject to certain conditions, such as limits on the amount of markup and the form of transaction.

One reason why ticket scalping isn’t illegal anymore is the challenge of defining and regulating the practice. What constitutes scalping and what should be considered legitimate resale? Is it fair to prevent fans from selling tickets they can no longer use or want to upgrade, and how can this be distinguished from professional scalpers who buy tickets in bulk and manipulate the market? These are complex issues that require a delicate balance between protecting consumers and preserving the free market.

Another reason why ticket scalping persists is the lack of consensus among stakeholders. While some fans see it as a necessary evil and a way to access sold-out or premium events, others view it as a form of exploitation and a hindrance to fair access. Event organizers and ticketing companies have mixed opinions as well, as they can benefit from the additional revenue generated by resale sites but also face backlash from fans and artists who feel their tickets are being devalued or misused.

The Future of Ticket Scalping

The issue of ticket scalping is not going away anytime soon, and it will likely continue to evolve as technology and consumer behavior change. However, there are some trends and initiatives that may impact the future of ticket scalping.

Firstly, the growing popularity of dynamic pricing – where ticket prices fluctuate based on demand and other factors – could reduce the incentive for scalpers to buy and hoard tickets in advance. This would make it easier for fans to buy tickets at face value and discourage scalpers from manipulating the market.

Secondly, some governments and institutions are exploring alternative models for ticketing, such as blockchain-based systems that could provide more transparency and security for buyers and sellers. These systems could potentially reduce the role of intermediaries and create a more efficient and fair marketplace.

Finally, it is possible that public sentiment and political pressure will compel more states and countries to enact anti-scalping laws or strengthen existing ones. However, this would need to be balanced with the realities of the market and the potential unintended consequences of such measures.


So, why isn’t ticket scalping illegal anymore? The answer is not simple, and it involves a complex mix of legal, economic, and social factors. While some argue that scalping should be banned or heavily restricted to protect consumers and promote fairness, others see it as a legitimate aspect of the free market and a way to meet consumer demand. As the event industry continues to evolve, it is likely that the debate over ticket scalping will continue as well.