In the US, ticket scalping is the practice of buying and reselling event tickets by private citizens, rather than by the sponsoring venue or organization, usually at a much higher price than their face value. Laws about ticket scalping vary by state, and there is no federal law that prohibits the practice. Approximately 16 of the 50 states have a law that makes scalping illegal. Seven states — Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania — require a special license to resell tickets. Four states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio and Virginia — leave the issue up to local municipalities.
When ticket scalping laws are broken, consequences are often not enforced. As with crime in general, police officers handle the offense according to severity. Scalping is a nonviolent crime without a victim — in fact, it is a crime where both parties are agreeable to the transaction. Therefore, cops are often hesitant to get involved.
In addition to state laws, other laws make scalping illegal in raceways and the NFL. Those who can enforce the law at races or football games include box office personnel, supervisors, venue managers, ticket agents, security agents, event promoters and seat holders. At other events, reselling tickets is not illegal, but it's not permitted on stadium grounds. This is why scalping often occurs in close proximity to events, such as concerts or baseball games, but not within the grounds or stadium.
Laws became even more difficult to enforce when the practice became widespread online. Internet sites that resell tickets are regulated, tax-paying websites that capitalize on fans’ eagerness to buy tickets at any cost. If the official website for the event sells out, these sites promote themselves as a second chance. Efforts to make the practice illegal are overshadowed by such websites.
Those in favor of the legality of ticket scalping say that going through brokers creates a safe and reliable way to get tickets. They state that it creates a fair, open market that both parties are agreeable toward. Those who want to make the practice illegal argue that the system favors the wealthy and prompts scalpers to buy large quantities of tickets strictly for resale. If the reseller buys up the tickets, fans may not have the opportunity to purchase tickets at their original cost.
Ticket scalpers are motivated by different factors, including greed, the desire to prey on fans’ emotions, and a love of capitalism. When scalpers buy large quantities of tickets, they take the risk of failing to resell all of them, losing money. People who attend concerts or sporting events are usually emotionally invested in that event, and resellers take advantage of those feelings. Others see themselves as businessmen. In an effort to compromise on ticket scalping laws, licenses or permits are often required, and the decision to make scalping illegal is made by individual states or municipalities.