We’ve all been there. You’re at a dinner party and someone asks you The Question:
“So, what do you do?”
“Oh, I’m a ticket broker.”
“You mean like, a scalper?”
“Well, not exactly. What we do is 100% legal and law-abiding.”
“But you’re still ticket scalping, aren’t you?”
Avoiding the S Word
No ticket broker wants to be called a scalper, even though we’d all admit that the distinction between ticket broker and ticket scalper is blurry at best. The only real distinction between the terms is one of emphasis.
A “scalper” is someone with no regard for the law, who will sell tickets anywhere and everywhere, to anyone, at any price as long as it’s profitable.
A “broker” is someone who respects the law of the local jurisdiction he finds himself a part of, whether it related to proximity to the venue or maximum sale price.
The Reality of Ticket Resale
StubHub processes hundreds of millions of dollars each year in revenue. If buying and reselling tickets for a profit were an illegal practice or somehow looked down upon by the government, StubHub would cease to exist. Quite to the contrary, StubHub is paying millions of dollars to the IRS in taxes, which means the United States government is making quite a pretty penny from the resale of tickets.
Let’s face it: ticket brokering is a real profession. It just has to be done right.
Evolving from Ticket Scalper to Ticket Broker
Given the immense profitability in buying and selling concert and sporting tickets online, let’s go over some basic tenets of ticket brokering, and how it differs from ticket scalping.
1. Ticket brokering is legal. Every state has laws and regulations outlining their specific policy toward ticket brokering, and many require a ticket broker license. Here is Georgia’s policy on ticket brokering, for example.
2. Ticket brokers are tax-abiding. Those engaged in ticket scalping (the bad one) may have no respect for the law or the government, so they may sidestep any tax duties they may have. Ticket brokers understand that they are engaging in a business, and like any other business, must pay taxes.
3. Ticket brokering is ethical. The National Association of Ticket Brokers exists to ensure responsible and diligent ticket brokering practices across the country, outlined in their Code of Ethics.
4. Ticket brokers are transparent. If a seat has an obstructed view or any other limitation that is not obvious from the event itself (e.g. “loud music” is not a limitation at a rock concert, but standing in front of a 7-foot wide beam is), that limitation will be clearly described prior to purchasing.
5. Ticket brokers are honest. If a ticket broker advertises a refund policy on their listings, they must comply with that policy and grant a refund to the buyer, given sufficient prior notice.
Become a Ticket Broker, not a Ticket Scalper
There will be enough money to be made in this industry for a long, long time to come. Position yourself correctly from the get-go as a ticket broker and avoid the dreaded S word. You’ll be glad you did, both at the bank and at your next dinner party.