Everyone has seen those shady characters hawking ducats a safe distance from Broadway theatres. And a sizable percentage of theatergoers has resorted to what's known in professional circles as the "secondary ticket sales market" at one time or another. Some experts contend that on any given night, 100 to 200 seats to a hot show like Jersey Boys are procured through scalpers.
That the selling and reselling of tickets is a hot business in Gotham should surprise no one. The city, after all, offers a dizzying array of entertainment options, from concerts to shows to sporting events. As a result, New York City constitutes approximately one-third of all the secondary market ticket sales, according to Donald J. Vaccaro, the founder and president of TicketNetwork.com, a company that includes TicketLiquidator, a sort of cyber-Casbah where promoters, show producers, venues, and assorted others sell tickets to consumers. TicketNetwork also controls the software that many brokers now use.
Still, despite the booming business, only one percent of the more than 10,000 employed in the scalping industry actually work in New York City, according to Vaccaro. This odd fact is owing to New York State's ticket scalping law - a law which may soon undergo a change set to shake the industry to its very core.
Currently, the New York law is in the minority in the nation in setting a price cap on the resale of tickets. The current law lets brokers charge up to 45 percent above face value for large events, such as rock concerts and sports outings. However, for venues with fewer than 6,000 seats (read: Broadway theatres), the cap is 20 percent above face value.
In recent years, New York has grown fairly isolated in its attitude to scalping. Florida and Illinois recently dropped their resale caps. And the Connecticut General Assembly in 2006 proposed a bill that would repeal its scalping ban - a bill that, as of press time, looks poised to pass. A similar bill is in play in Massachusetts.