I bought four tickets for Madonna's upcoming show at the Garden and now two of my can't go. I'm hoping to make a few bucks by selling the extras online, either through Craigslist or eBay, but my friend warned me about some strict New York scalping laws. He also questioned the ethics of it all. Will I get in trouble if I sell the tickets online?
Charlotte T., Lower East Side
You won't get in trouble if you follow New York's anti-scalping laws. Then again, you won't get in trouble if you break the law and don't get caught, but why take that chance?
Laws regarding the reselling of concert, sporting event, and theater tickets vary from state to state. eBay outlines very specfic rules on a page titled Event Ticket Resale Policies. If you live in New York and are selling tickets on eBay to an event in New York, you can not exceed 20% or $5 above the face value of the ticket, whichever is greater. (This seems to conflict with other sources on New York State law, which cite a 20% or $10 limit.)
Enforcement, however, is very difficult and Gothamist found plenty of auctions on eBay where ticket prices seemed to exceed the 20% limit stated on eBay. That's because licensed brokers in New Jersey, for example, can sell tickets for 50% above the price they paid to acquire them. Gothamist found no set policy on Craigslist. Tickets for events such as the Sox-Yankees series and His Royal Purpleness' concert at MSG were selling on the no-frills website at prices above face value and some even advertised shady "contact me for price information" come ons. Let the buyer beware.
Ticket brokers - and even some economists - argue that scalpers are only using a free market to their advantage since no one is forcing sports fans to shell out $1500 for third base tickets. Gothamist disagrees and would like to paraphrase the advice given to a young Peter Parker by his Uncle Ben: with great seats comes great responsibility. You ought not take advantage of anonymous Madonna fans any more than you would your for whom the tickets were originally intended. Charge the 20% mark-up for your troubles if you wish and just give thanks that you weren't stuck with Mets tickets. Gothamist hears it's tough to even give those things away.