Scalping Tickets: What Does The Law Say?

Last Updated on September 1, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team

We have all been to concerts or events and seen people trying to sell tickets outside of the venue. This is usually done in a hushed manner, or in a relatively subtle way, and usually involves the tickets in question being sold at an inflated price. 

These ticket scalpers use various methods to achieve their end, and the practice in general is often seen as being unfair and damaging to the live event industry, due to the fact that the practices involved reprieve people from seeing shows. 

Scalping Tickets What Does The Law Say

But what is the legality surrounding ticket scalping, and how does the process work? 

Ticket Scalping: The Process

With regards to the processes involved, there are many ways scalpers can achieve their ends. 

Automated Purchasing

In modern times, scalpers use automated processes to purchase tickets via online retailers. This often involves the use of ‘bots’, essentially internet software programs which conduct automated processes over the internet. 

These bots in themselves are not necessarily unlawful, although many of the ways in which they are used are considered immoral, unethical, and sometimes illegal. 

In ticket scalping, these bots are used to automatically purchase large numbers of tickets from a number of different online retailers in a quick and efficient manner, amassing more than would feasibly be available to one individual customer. 

This can involve the creation of different accounts, personas, or identities, all of which will meet the minimum requirements for online purchasing. 

Once the tickets have been acquired, they can then be sold for an inflated price, either through online outlets, or in person.

Acquiring Tickets

Alternatively, scalpers can manually purchase and sell tickets to and from customers outside of the venue. 

This is the most commonly seen method (for obvious reasons), and is a frequent sight at events and shows. Scalpers will often state that they will buy and sell tickets for the show in question, and will walk up and down the line outside the venue, touting their ‘services’ to those waiting. 

The prices at which they will purchase second hand tickets will usually be a reduced cost, and will normally be the same or less than the person originally purchased them for.

There are many reasons why people might resell their tickets, for example, if a friend cancels at the last minute, or they bought more than they needed and their plans changed. 

The resale price will then be raised exponentially, with the scalper charging those seeking tickets far more than they would have paid through registered outlets.

This is because they are a captive audience of sorts, and the short notice of the event adds pressure on people to pay over the odds. 

Ticket Scalping & Legality 

When it comes to ticket scalping and the law, there are many differences depending on country or origin, the type of event, and the venues in question. 

The United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, ticket scalping is technically legal, except at soccer matches, where it is against the law. 

This law was put into place under the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994, where any reselling of soccer tickets, except those authorized by the event organizers, would be considered illegal. 

This depends on private contracts with the specific teams, who can form business partnerships with legitimate second hand ticket selling marketplaces.

One example is the secondary ticket market Stubhub, who has a legitimate contract with Sunderland Association Football Club, and Everton Football Club, while Viagogo has contrast with Chelsea Football Club and others. 

While there is no official law against other kinds of ticket resale – such as for music and sporting events – specific venues can place restrictions. For example, Wimbledon has prohibited the resale of tickets for tennis matches at their venue. 

The United States

One of the most profitable industries in the United States, ticket scalping draws in around $5 billion dollars annually.

Due to the complex nature of US federal and state law, the rules surrounding ticket scalping can vary greatly, depending on the state, city, and venue in question. 

While some states might differ, most prohibit resale of tickets at the venue, including the associated land like parking lots and waiting areas.

In many cases though, there are very limited restrictions on when and how they can sell, and scalpers can post ads through newspapers and ticket broker websites to sell their wares. 

In some US states, resale is actively encouraged, and certain venues assign specific areas outside where the scalpers can operate. This is however seemingly down to the preference of the venue, and some can ban their presence entirely from their shows. 

In states where there are laws in place, scalpers can exploit loopholes by selling to another state, or attending shows out of state and selling there. 


Specific European countries that have specific regulations in place include the Republic of Ireland, Israel, and Sweden. 

In the Republic of Ireland, it is legal to resell tickets for profit through notable second hand ticket websites, however under the Casual Trading Act 1995, it is illegal to resell tickets in public places, and penalties are in place to enforce and hopefully deter resale at the venue. 

Under the 67th amendment to the Israeli penal code, ticket scalping is outlawed in the country, and laws are in place to allow the police to fight and stop ticket reselling in public places – where it is seen as causing distress to the public. 

Sweden on the other hand has some of the most relaxed laws surrounding ticket resale, with no legal limitations in place regardless of what the specific venue decides. 

Scalping Tickets What Does The Law Say

Ticket Scalping & Morality

Despite the law surrounding ticket scalping being a complex gray area, the act is widely considered to be immoral and unethical by both performers, venue owners, and customers alike. 

Harming Industries

Already considered a struggling industry in many parts of the world, live events venues are some of the loudest opponents to ticket scalping, as this can actively damage how many people can attend their shows. 

Misrepresentation Of Events

For fans of live music and sporting events, the mass nature of ticket scalping means that many people might miss out on being able to purchase a ticket from licensed vendors. 

Similarly, if the tickets are then not resold by the scalper, shows touted as being ‘sold out’ might be anything but, seriously hindering the experience for the musicians and the fans alike. 

Unfair To Fans

One of the biggest concerns is how honest people are exploited by the resale industry, where, particularly for popular events, ticket scalpers can dominate ticket sales and hike up the price exponentially. 

Scalpers can then exploit the rarity of tickets, raising their prices as high as they like, and exploiting the desperation or intense desire of fans to see their favorite band or sports team. 

Unsavory For Fans

Aside from this, the process is also seen as unsavory by many, seeing it as a nasty element to something that should otherwise be a fun time for those in attendance. Many people also feel threatened by physical resellers, and dislike their presence outside shows and venues. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about ticket scalping and the legality therein. 

Ticket scalping might be legal in most cases, but it is viewed in a poor light by fans, artists, and venue owners alike. Rife with exploitation, conmen, and exorbitant price hiking, what little benefit there might be to fans is overshadowed by the negatives of this controversial industry. 

For the best deals on tickets, and to avoid being ripped off, always purchase from registered vendors. Your wallet will thank you later!