Mass. May Legalize Ticket Scalping

By Adam Reilly

Sept. 21, 2011

Watch the segment that aired on Sept. 20 on 'GBH's Greater Boston.

BOSTON — In theory at least, ticket scalping is illegal here in Massachusetts. But in reality it's widely accepted. From the guys who peddle Sox tickets outside Fenway, to outfits like Stub Hub and Ace Ticket that routinely sell thousands of seats at a hefty markup. Now a proposed law would give scalpers free rein; letting anyone who buys a ticket resell it at any price. Proponents say it's a simple issue of economic freedom, but the truth may be a bit more complicated.

StubHub tickets (via Greater Boston)

Take a stroll down Brookline Avenue before any Red Sox game and you'll see how easy it is to flout state law. You're supposed to have a license to resell tickets — and you're not supposed to jack the price up more than $2 plus expenses. Yet Fenway's unlicensed scalpers operate right on the street. And if you buy from a licensed reseller like Stub Hub or Ace Ticket, you'll pay a heck of a lot more than two bucks extra. For some folks I talked to, the experience is a mixed bag. One woman paid $90 for a ticket with a $30 face value.

Now Brighton State Representative Mike Moran wants to scrap the state's feeble anti-scalping law altogether — letting anyone who buys a ticket resell it at any price. That could benefit ordinary fans looking to unload tickets at the last minute, but only if they can overcome the public's intense aversion to buying on the street.

However, the biggest beneficiaries would probably be Stub Hub and Ace Ticket. Moran's bill would let them raise prices even higher, and in sports crazed New England they'd have no shortage of buyers. I asked another woman if she would mind the markup up at a Stub Hub or Ace ticket, and she replied, "Not really, provided that you get a good seat and guaranteed ticket."

This isn't the first attempt to scrap the state's anti-scalping law. In 2008 a similar bill died as controversy engulfed then House Speaker Sal DiMasi. But now DiMasi is gone – and scalping's legalized heyday may finally be at hand.

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