Ticket Brokers vs. Ticket Scalpers

by Brandon

Ticket Brokering vs. Ticket Scalping

People who buy and sell tickets for profit are given many names: some call us ticket brokers, ticket agents, ticket resellers, and to some, we’re just ticket scalpers.

Ticket broker? Cool, I kind of like that. Sounds professional.

Ticket reseller? Not as cool, but hey, it’s not too bad.

Ticket scalper? Yuck.

There’s a lot of confusion going around about what the difference is between ticket brokering and ticket scalping. I’ve been in the industry long enough to know the difference between these two characters. Let’s try to set the record straight.

The Law

I will start off by saying that, legally speaking, the government doesn’t distinguish between a ticket broker and a ticket scalper. In their eyes, we all buy and sell tickets for profit, except that some of us do it in legal ways and other don’t.

The confusion between the two terms is mostly on the street. It comes up in conversations you have with your family and friends, or with strangers at a game or concert. It can come up when someone asks you, “So, what do you do?” Next time someone asks you that, you can point to these differences to show them that you’re a ticket broker and not a ticket scalper.


Scalpers and brokers sell tickets at very different times relative to the event date.

  • Ticket brokers sell tickets days, weeks, and months before the event.
  • Ticket scalpers sell tickets on the day of, or just minutes before showtime.


Scalpers and brokers sell tickets in different locations.

  • Ticket brokers sell tickets from their offices via the internet or telephone.
  • Ticket scalpers sell tickets outside of the venue where the event will take place.


Brokers abide by state ticket brokering laws whereas scalpers ignore them.

  • Ticket brokers hold a ticket broker license if their state mandates one.
  • Ticket scalpers sell without a license, even if state law requires one.

National Association of Ticket Brokers

Ticket brokers are also often members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, which offers them further levels of social, ethical, and legal legitimacy that scalpers are unlikely to provide.

Legitimacy & Refund policies

Brokers guarantee that your tickets are authentic (or your money back); scalped tickets are not guaranteed.

  • Ticket brokers promise to provide authentic tickets or your money back.
  • Ticket scalpers sell you tickets with no guarantee of authenticity or a refund.


Ticket brokers report their earnings with the government; scalpers profit “under the table.”


Ticket brokers and ticket scalpers differ in their level of communication.

  • Ticket brokers provide multiple methods of contact such as email, phone, or a physical address.
  • Ticket scalpers usually offer no method of contact before or after the transaction takes place.

Who are you?

Read the differences above and decide for yourself which of these two characters you are. Are you conducting business within the confines of the law and offering your customers a service? Or are you the shady guy outside of the arena looking for a quick buck?

I will strive to write every post on The Tickets Guide for the first guy.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

James February 1, 2011 at 7:23 pm


How can I make money in New York which requires a license with a yearly fee of $5000.00 and a one time additional $25,000.00 bond? I purchased your guide about a month ago and it has been very informative. I just hit a huge road block with this license requirement and the amount of money that I will be shelling out to have this requirement.


Brandon February 2, 2011 at 10:15 am

Hey James,

Make sure that you actually have to meet these requirements. I know requirements differ in each state, but that sounds extreme.

In either case, you don’t absolutely NEED to meet ticket broker requirements (99% of online ticket brokers don’t), but if you plan to make a full time income doing it, it’s an investment that is well worth it in the end.



Craig thoM March 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm

If I was going to start an online ticket business I know I can basically register the business in any state. In your experience what state is has the easiest barriers of entry and the best tax advantages?


David August 28, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Ticket brokers, ticket scalpers…whatever you call yourselves, you are scumbags, and a truly despised by everyone who has to endure you opportunistic gouging. You have no ethical legitimacy, no matter what you say or what licensing you have. You have no talent, nothing of value to offer, and swindle hard earned money from people who are just looking for a little entertainment and release. true parasites, in every sense of the word. Thanks a-holes.


Josh November 30, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I agree 100%. I tried to get radiohead tickets for austin a couple of weeks ago and used two computers and two phones. I couldn’t even get into the website for a ticket for 20 minutes and never got through on the phones. I could only get one ticket in the nosebleeds. Tickets were 49-69. I just looked online to try and see if i could find another ticket for my wife and low and behold one f-ing broker had 300 or more tickets ranging from 158-1750 per ticket. I don’t know how they do it. This is total horse-sh!t and should be illegal. Scumbags


Bill January 25, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I don’t want to hear it. I know what I can afford. I have egonuh in the bank to pay the full 12 months rent for the place I want. I’m asking about other utilities. My car expenses are dead on. This is the average I’ve payed over the last 3 years. I actually pay a little less now for some of the stuff. I also did not leave out clothes or hobbies.. You didn’t read my entire post before replying. I budgeted $200 a month for that. It’s under the WHAT I DO NOT NEED category -.-Smh, alicia, why can’t you just answer the questions instead of spamming.I know what I pay now. I have all of the things Im asking about now. Im asking what other people pay because guess what, IM WONDERING WHAT OTHER PEOPLE PAY! I realize everyone is different, and guess what; THAT’S WHY I’M ASKING. 6 answers and not a damn one answers the question I asked. This site is ridiculous.


Fietsen September 28, 2011 at 2:31 am

Thanks for sharing this topic ..


Jay January 8, 2012 at 11:03 am

There is absolutely no difference between “brokers” and scalpers. You are all parasites on society, and make it so hard for an averager guy like me to bring his son to a ball game. You are truly pathetic people, and you should be ashamed of yourselves. I would prefer to pay the artists, athletes, coaches and others who EARN my money rather than the bastard who happens to be lucky enough to get through and happens to have the money to buy 500 tickets to an event. A-HOLES!!!!!


Lori March 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm

We bought 4 tickets to the Madonna show at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. When buying the tickets we thought we were buying directly from the Sprint Center and not Metroentertainment. Metroentertainment on their website had a picture of the Sprint Center along with a seating chart and ticket prices. Their website also had all the shows at the Sprint Center listed. We bought four tickets a total of $792.36 each tickets was priced $158 with a service charge of $36.4. When we received the tickets the price of each ticket was $41.72 with a total service charge of $17.28. We were ripped off by $556.36. I suggest nobody use Metroentertainment to ever buy tickets


Valerie April 8, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Whether you’re a “ticket broker” or “ticket scalper”, I hate you. All of it should be illegal. Get a real job. You take the enjoyment out of concerts, sporting events, etc. For example I run a blog, twitter, and have spent a lot of money on my favorite bands/artists merchandise and I can’t even afford the tickets because they sell out in the blink of an eye to you guys. Somehow you even get tickets before they go on sale or presale!? It’s so unfair. I’m 16. I get minimum wage($7.40 an hour) at my job and I can only work certain hours because of my age. After slaving for a whole summer I barely made over $1000. And there’s nosebleed tickets being sold for way more than this when the original price was less then $100. Unfortunately I miss the chance of ever seeing my idols live because of ticket brokers/scalpers. I don’t have the money. You’re all the same in my mind, no matter if you sell tickets legally or not. Disgusting. Don’t buy tickets unless you’re planning on going to the concert yourself. It’s a shame this is your job.


Don July 30, 2013 at 7:22 am

So the only REAL difference is if the government gets a cut (taxes, licenses, etc) then it’s legal.


Scalper October 24, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Hate to burst all your bubble, but scalpers/brokers arent going anywhere. You don’t like us, learn to get the tickets yourself. Its capitalism at its finest, and you don’t see us complaining about most of you who collect your welfare checks. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.


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T.D. June 24, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Scalpers / Brokers – you say your are capitalist, you are opportunist, and take advantage of a situation in order to take advantage of others. In your world, there is something special about taking advantage of other people, If you had the skills sets to earn an honest living, you still wouldn’t, it’s not in your nature to make an honest living. A thin is line between scamming for a living, and hiding behind the name “Broker”, a broker negotiates the win win. With you, people are forced to pay the prices out of desire for legitimate entertainment, and must deal with pimps to do so, you are worthless to society, although you feel you provide a service. Shame on the ticket masters and other similar whores who, in order to get a cut of the action from the sodomites, allow them to slime their wares on the website, all in the name of the dollar. More entertainers should take action, but they too stand silent for their money. To The blogger “Scalper” you’re a pimp, and so is your profession, you margin up tickets for a source of income……seriously sad. It has come to a point where the entertainment is no longer worth my time or money. I wait for it to show up on DVD or DTV. Thanks to the Scalper and Broker pukes…


T.D. June 24, 2014 at 9:55 pm

To Brandon…
You try to legitimize and glamourize your dealings, what a re-tard you are…..I’m embarrassed for your ignorance and stupidity . You mention in your opening lines, we are called many names, you failed to mention the real names customers call you…which are pimps, pukes and scammers.

Hi I’m Brandon and I’m a ticket Pimp!

There is no confusion about you guys, you are a joke.

Tell me I’m wrong……

I should start a website to reveal the real pimps and sodomites you really are..


T.D. June 24, 2014 at 10:06 pm

Kip Moore Takes Aim at Ticket Scalpers

“I want to always keep prices low, so don’t be a dick”

Read more:
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

Excerpt from Rolling stone Magazine….Brandon, legitmate business, right? if it were you would not see the reaction from entertainers this way……if you want to become a re-tard pimp, listen to branden…..and become a broker


T.D. June 24, 2014 at 10:36 pm

The entertainer and venue should charge a deposit on tickets, when you redeem your ticket after the event, your credit card will be credited.

Check this out…..

a $50 ticket purchased from the venue should come with a $250 deposit, when you attend the event, you redeem your ticket after the show, either at the venue or through the credit card company for a refund of $250. It should be 3 to 5 times the face value or equal to what the scalper would charge, but it all comes back to the concert goer, not the pimp!! This would slow down the scalper, he would no longer get all the vig, and have to find a new way of scamming, yippee!


Tried It December 11, 2018 at 3:06 pm

As someone who actually dabbled in sports ticket brokering I would agree – it is quite shady.

Sure, every time you make a sale it feels great. Also, there’s software and other trappings that can be added to make it ‘feel’ like a real business, but ultimately the proof is in the pudding: For most teams to get season tickets you have to create a story that you are a fan, use a (fake) local address, etc.

In other words, you have to manipulate the teams in some way, b/c they are aiming to keep the pricing artificially low to help true fans.

And this is coming from me, a true capitalist. I do think price is generally the best way to distribute a good. I remember when there was a hurricane 5 years ago and gas stations weren’t allowed to raise the price. Was very foolish – people had to wait in line for hours. Would have been better to raise the price and let those who _really_ needed it be able to pay a higher (say, someone driving to a wedding) and get gas. In that case, the gas stations is truly providing a service – they are bringing gas to this location. On the other hand, in tickets you are leveraging the “fan” rate to then upsell to real fans.

The teams could in an instant destroy the entire “brokering” industry if they wanted to, simply by connecting ticket sales to a Photo ID checked at entry. But this would have it’s own issues, because checking IDs takes a long time and also because many people legitimately buy tickets for their friends / families or go as a group – it could get very complex.

So, because there’s no good solution yet “brokers” are able to still exploit the team’s intentional under-pricing.


Tom July 21, 2019 at 7:43 pm

It’s time someone starts a Class Action Suit against all so called ticket brokers.
I recently went to an event venue 5 weeks before the event.
I walked up to the “Ticket Window” and asked for 8 tickets ($80.00 face value per ticket). I was told “All of our tickets are sold by Ticketmaster. You’ll have to buy your tickets from them.” The price: $150 per ticket.
This is a real example of the reason a Class Action Suit is needed.
A ticket selling license should not be a license to scalp legally.


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Jim November 2, 2019 at 11:57 am

Brokering : Completely unethical horsecrap. I cannot believe this has come under some sort of racketeering/collusion lawsuit. It is a shading underworld of profiteering that needs to be brought to justice. The uneven playing field in which *legitimate* tickets are made to the public is an absolute joke.

Brokers have some sort of handshake deal in place through ticket master or stubhub.

Its time to bring these aholes down.


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