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Ticket Scalping Is Not a Victimless Crime
by: Jeff Howard

I admit it. Many, many years ago I purchased a ticket from a ticket scalper outside Texas Stadium. If memory serves correct, I paid $70 for a ticket with a face value around $15. Like I said it was many, many years ago, and I was young and naive.

At the time I felt relieved to have a ticket. The game was a sell out, but as soon as I found my seat, I felt cheated. Let's just say it was a very bad seat. One of the worst in the house to be sure, but still good enough for me to see the visiting Chicago Bears destroy Dallas 44-0!

My bad experience aside, many fans see scalpers as their only option for getting into sold out events. At worst they see ticket scalping as a low-level, victimless crime.

I would suggest, however, that the fact prove otherwise.

Investigative reports around the country have uncovered highly organized groups of professional ticket scalpers who control street-level ticket sales in many major league sports cities. Often these men have ties to organized crime and lengthy criminal records. As seasoned criminals they are quick to threaten a customer or turn violent when a transaction doesn't go their way.

Certainly not all the scalpers seen hawking tickets outside your local stadium fall into this category, but the threat is widespread and very real.

Using various techniques, these groups acquire tickets from season ticket holders, ticket agencies, and even the team's box office. In some cases they work closely with team employees to ensure a constant supply of tickets. They also aggressively solicit fans seeking to buy spare tickets at discounted prices.

Sadly this leaves the typical fan literally on the outside looking in. Fans who can't get tickets through the more traditional channels are forced to deal with these groups if they want to see a game in person.

As always I recommend you avoid scalpers if at all possible. I agree there may be certain situations when you have no choice, but don't make it a habit. In my opinion there are just too many risks, and besides you can get tickets to just about any event without them as long as you're prepared to put a little effort into it.

With that said, if you decide to approach one outside the stadium, please remember who you're dealing with. This person might be a convicted drug dealer, thief, or worse a violent criminal. In addition, he might have ties to organized crime. Above all use your common sense and proceed with caution.

I'm sure the majority of fans who purchase tickets from a scalper don't suffer from the level of "buyer's remorse" I felt inside Texas Stadium, and they certainly don't experience anything close to assault and battery. However, threats, intimidation and violence have become a part of the ticket scalping business in many cities so please be careful out there.


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