Scalpers Get Their Day In Court

Ticket resellers operating in Massachusetts should consider themselves forewarned – those who’ve flouted the state’s anti-scalping law may have gotten away with it in the past but could soon find themselves facing disciplinary action.

Admit One, a ticket reseller accused of violating the law, was recently asked by a Quincy District Court judge to name its supplier during a hearing, the Boston Globe reported, a move the agency said could put it out of business.

Other brokers facing their own days in court have apparently gone so far as to say that if authorities begin heavily enforcing the ticketing law, the entire secondary industry in the state could effectively be put out of business.

Massachusetts, like many other states, has an antiquated anti-scalping law – one that dates back to 1924. The law requires those who sell tickets on the secondary market to obtain a license and limits markups on those tickets to no more than $2 plus applicable service charges. And, as in other states, officials have often turned a blind eye toward those who’ve violated the statute.

But recent lawsuits have brought the anti-scalping law back to the forefront, and to the attention of lawmakers and police departments around the state.

A Boston police official recently told the Globe the department plans to be out in full force at Red Sox games.

"We are going to enforce the law on the tickets and try to have a lot more visibility to enforce it," Capt. William Evans said.

Sports teams themselves have also become more active in the fight against scalping, revoking the season tickets of those caught reselling through unauthorized channels.

Other teams have resorted to legal action. The New England Patriots, which offers its own resale site for ticketholders, filed suit against StubHub last fall, alleging the company encourages fans to break the state’s ticket law.

Robert Allen Jr., an attorney representing Boston ticket reseller Higs Cityside in a current suit, told the Globe the law should be changed to apply to the times.

"We cannot hold current license holders to the same standards that were created for resellers of theatre tickets in the 1920s," he said.

And a handful of bills regarding ticket resale are currently being debated in the state’s House of Representatives and Senate. Proposed legislation covers how the tickets can be resold, who can sell them and just how much the tickets can be resold for, with proposed markups ranging from $10 to 10 percent and 25 percent fees respectively.

The real challenge for lawmakers will be to decide whether to continue with current legislation or follow the current trend that sees more and more states foregoing previous regulations in favor of an open secondary market.

During the past year, Illinois, South Carolina and Florida have all relaxed or repealed their anti-scalping laws, and New York is currently at the tipping point after easing its rules to permit some resales at face value plus 45 percent.