September 8, 2017

Scalping Tickets: Legal Risks for
Sellers and Buyers

by Frank A. Ray, Frank A. Ray Co., L.P.A.

Re-selling tickets for a college or professional sporting event might seem like an innocent act. But not so fast, my scalping friend.

Ticket scalping is the act of re-selling tickets for entertainment events. When purchasing tickets from scalpers, buyers incur the risk of dealing with scammers who may be selling counterfeit or stolen tickets. Some conning scalpers even re-sell authentic tickets already scanned at the venue gate, nullifying re-entry.

However, with event promoters’ licensing, well-known online ticket brokers are legitimatized.

The Ohio State University’s Athletic Department has established a policy for students, faculty and staff for re-sale of tickets for OSU games, including the following warning: “This privilege [to purchase OSU sports tickets] does not entitle anyone to abuse the ticket policy by scalping or misusing tickets they purchase.”

While Ohio statutes do not specifically prohibit ticket scalping, one enactment authorizes municipalities to regulate re-sale of tickets for “theatrical exhibitions, public shows, and athletic games”. Another statute similarly empowers township trustees.

The Columbus City Code also does not specifically prohibit ticket scalping. Rather, it regulates a “peddler” selling “upon any street, road, alley, doorway, sidewalk, or upon vacant lots or other tracts of land” inside the City. For a peddler unlicensed by the City, the code imposes a minor misdemeanor for first offenders and a first degree misdemeanor for repeat offenders. Will the City enforce against unlicensed scalpers? Not likely.

If you’re contemplating re-sale of tickets for an “away” OSU football game, beware. The State-Up-North’s statutory code prohibits ticket scalping. It figures.