Buying Tickets Online

by on October 12, 2006

Last week I was in New York City for a hearing on ticket scalping (I prefer the nice term “reselling”) and the impact scalping (resale) laws have on online businesses like eBay, StubHub and RazorGator. My colleague, Steve DelBianco, testified at what turned out to be an interesting hearing on what’s really best for the consumer (see his blog post on this). I’m happy to say that most agreed that a free market for secondary sales of tickets is in a consumer’s best interest.

Gone are the days of having to go to the event and purchase a ticket from some gruff, shady character. Sites like eBay and StubHub offer a safe (and often guaranteed) experience for buying and selling tickets. But in case you haven’t noticed, venues and teams will often prevent these resales–just look at the small type language on the back of your ticket next time you’re at a Yankees game (which, thankfully, won’t be until next year!). The Yankees have already “evicted” 10 or so season ticket holders because they resold their tickets (mostly on eBay). These restrictions are on single-game tickets as well.

So here’s where the libertarian in me is somewhat conflicted. The ticket is legally a license, so it is a contract that I willfully entered into. If the Yankees want me to only use THEIR approved exchange to resell my ticket, I agreed to that. BUT, don’t most people assume their ticket is personal property, to give or sell to whomever at whatever price? Perhaps this is a property rights issue.

Regardless, here is the testimony that my organization presented last week. And if you’re really interested in how corrupt the entertainment and Broadway ticket sales market is in NYC (something that an open and transparent online market would help), check out this Spitzer report.

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