How should the law treat second-party ticket sales?

A bill that passed the Minnesota House on Tuesday would make it harder for sports and concert venues to restrict the resale of tickets to their events. Backers of the proposal say people should be able to do what they want with tickets they buy. Opponents charge that the change will make it easier for ticket-scalping operations outside Minnesota to control large numbers of tickets and sell them at inflated prices. Today’s Question: How should the law treat second-party ticket sales?

  • reggie

    In matters that don’t involve core public services that affect the health and well-being of all citizens, let the free market work its magic. Whether one can afford and is willing to pay an inflated price for a pop star’s concert is really not something in which gov’t should have an interest.

    Last year you could walk up to Target Center before a Twolves game and buy a ticket from a reseller for half or less than the stated price. This year you pay at least the printed price, if not more. That’s supply and demand. The market giveth and the market taketh away.

  • Hiram

    Tickets are the same as anything else. You have the right to sell that which you own.

  • John

    I’m a Ron Paul follower, leave it alone, it doesn’t infringe on anyone’s rights.

    The best thing people could do is not go to a overpriced event.

  • david

    it shouldn’t, just like the government doesn’t need to go through any extra ordinary measures to protect anyone’s “intellectual” property like that over reaching SOPA and PIPA thing wanted/want to do.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Unlike health care, entertainment is a segment of the economy where the free market works well enough. If scalpers are making too much profit, someone will find a way to eat their lunch.

  • Brent

    I am falling on the side of doing nothing, and letting economics control the issue. As long as people are willing to pay the higher prices to scalpers, it will happen. If people decide they are paying too much and stop paying the high prices, the people who are buying up large blocks of tickets to events and then selling them at a higher price will most likely stop, since people aren’t buying.

  • Prohibitionist policies, in general, only give more power to the black market. How would they possibly stop secondary selling? By filling our already crowded penal system with more perpetrators of victimless crimes?

  • reggie

    David, if you are equating the protection of intellectual property with the right to buy and sell your seat at an event, then you misunderstand the nature of IP. The SOPA kerfluffle a few months back was mishandled, but the central issue of how we protect the interests of creators of content remains a huge problem. Swapping or re-selling the right to use a physical seat you’ve purchased is quite different than stealing software or illegally “sharing” music or films by making additional copies.

  • Jim G

    Tickets to concerts and athletic events are very expensive and a luxury many of us fore-go out of necessity. The average working family in our state hasn’t been to one of these events. They can’t afford them at the regular price. It’s just sad we don’t have the guts to stop these “Flash” ticket buyouts using technology not accessible to mom just trying to buy tickets for her kids. We should be able to level the playing field for mom against this monopoly using “anti-bots”, don’t you think?

  • JasonB

    I’m mostly with the predominant position to leave it alone. But one observation. This is a little different type of market in that the supply is limited. A concert or event ticket is not like buying soap at Target, where if they run out they just order more.

    If the event organizers want to serve their customers better, they will devise a better system to ensure that those who absolutely want to attend will get the opportunity. If that means competing with an after-market, so be it.

  • IVan

    If the idea to do nothing is an idea, then I think that’s bad. The scalpers will adjust the prices as necessary. Whether its $10 or $50, they will understandably try to make a profit.

    The market doesn’t always have the answer. And forget intellectual property or whatever other argument one wants to make to stop scalpers.

    Whatever happened to protecting consumers just for consumers sake. Yes, the government can overreach, and doesn’t always have the right answer. But that’s why we have elections to fix things.

    Two Roger Waters tickets are about $181. I don’t want a scalper upping the price.

  • david

    Reggie, I wasn’t making an apples to apples comparison, but more of a general statement of an example of misguided use of valuable governmental resources. Both the beneficiaries of either of these laws already priced themselves out of my reach for the most part anyway. Fortunately they are luxuries. After months of hearing the yelling and witnessing the jumping up and down on alleged government over reach of things that have the potential to drastically alter (or already altered) my life, and deserve the calm rational discussion this is receiving (i.e. healthcare, budget issues, financial regulation, job bills, gun control laws, etc.), I feel there are more pressing maters at hand so dismiss this issue entirely. This is one case where the free market should be allowed to sink or swim on its own. It doesn’t need government intervention to protect its inflated pricing structure.

    Ticket scalping will not affect my life on a daily basis, if ever. SOPA and PIPA do have the potential to, and I ended up writing letters and signing petitions showing my elected representative my feelings on the subject. When the daily question was about SOPA, I stated that maybe if those wanting the laws stopped producing so much crap and made something worth paying for, more people would. I have no problem supporting MPR and the Current, but I can count more movies and CDs purchased that I ended up regretting later than not. So now I seldom do. Same goes for tickets to things. If someone is willing to pay 2-3+ times the face value for a vikings ticket more power to them. I just wish they would step up and write a check for their stadium too so I don’t get nickled and dimed in sales taxes for someplace I’ll never visit. But that’s a question for another day, maybe a scalper tax?

  • Philip


  • Steve the Cynic

    Ticket scalping is a clever way some folks have found to extract profits from the economy without actually producing anything of value, kind of like bank fees and other “financial services.” Unlike banking, however, concerts and sporting events are luxuries people can forgo if they wish, so the unearned profits are being extracted from the wealthy more than from ordinary folks. Let the market sort it out.

  • Gary F

    “I don’t see your bill as a free-market bill,” said Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley. “[It’s] the Legislature weighing in and picking winners and losers among competing industries, and that’s something we’re pretty bad at, but never can stop doing, it seems.”

    It’s good that he’s come to the realization that he has a problem. But can he curb his addiction.

  • GregX

    Require a license to sell or resell tickets. Require a ticket seller to keep a record of where tickets came from and to whom sold. Tax them on the sales price at the “sports” tax rate ( about 7.5%).

    Make business out of them – don’t let them run an unregulated, competetive, con-game.

  • Ron

    A much bigger problem in the area of live entertainment is ticket monopolies and their excessive fees (TicketMaster) and the inability for us (the individual fans) to be able to get tickets without going through TM or a third-party resellers which snapped up the tickets electronically from TM before or in the opening minutes of an announced sale.

    Fix that first.

    If that gets fixed, who cares about Bob in the cubicle down the hall selling his Twins tickets at whatever price he can get.

  • James

    Scalping is legal.

    But the teams and organizers don’t like all of its implications, and in particular bulk buying for resale purposes.

    So they make it hard to bulk buy.

    That’s fair. That’s their choice.

    The government jumping in and saying the actual supplier has to “make it easy” for the bulk buyers is pure BS.

    Someone got to someone on this one.

  • @GregX – I have to ask (again) how you would enforce those regulations? Put “Bob in the cubicle down the hall” in jail for selling his Twins tickets?

    As far as some of the concerns mentioned here about third party re-sellers who electronically buy all the tickets to gorge prices… this is easily fixed by the sellers themselves. Do what First Avenue does and place a reasonable limit on how many tickets can be purchased in a single transaction. No law required.

  • Joe E

    There are at least four different types of consumers that are affected by this law. The first is the person who would like to purchase a ticket at the price it is offered when they go on sale, and they have no intention of reselling it. The second is much like the first, but they find that they need to sell it because they are not able to go. The third is the person who decides to go after all the tickets are sold. The fourth is the person who bought tickets when they went on sale, sometimes with the help of a bot, which often screws over the first person who really wanted to go and should not be forced to pay a high price due to an unsavory profit-minding seller only.

    I believe one of the commentors found a good way to sort it out by limiting the number of tickets that can be sold at once. It forces some competition between the fan of the music and the scalper.