Ticket Scalping

How to Sell Tickets for Top Dollar


Most of us who are older than forty think of ticket scalping as a sleazy activity that takes place in the shadows outside a concert venue or a sports stadium. It used to be - and mostly still is - frowned upon by the original sellers of the tickets. In theory a band or football stadium could refuse to admit a secondary buyer of tickets if there is a rule about that previously established, although I have not heard of this happening lately (nor would they really know you were the second buyer most of the time). In any case, contrary to what some people believe, there are no federal laws regulating this activity.

What do the states have to say about ticket scalping? It is legal in all fifty states, but some do regulate the business in minor ways. Selling outside of the venues, for example, is illegal because of the possibility of fraud as well as the potential crime and nuisance issues. A few states even limit how much a markup from face value is allowed. Fortunately it is possible to sell concert tickets and others without having to know the laws. Just use one of the online services that handles the deals for you and makes sure you are in compliance with any regulations.

For example, my friend recently bought tickets to see A Perfect Circle at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver. He paid $100 for two tickets, waiting for the opening moment they went on sale - knowing that all the decent seats would sell out quickly. A Perfect Circle is a group with a dedicated following. The group's members have worked in or with Ashes Divide, Puscifer, The Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Devo, and The Vandals.

Because of a scheduling conflict he wasn't going to make it to the concert, so he went online to sell the pair. At StubHub he found a buyer within two days who paid $200. StubHub takes 15% (as well as 10% from the buyer - there the real money maker), but they handle the transaction and even provide a printable FedEx label so shipping is covered. The buyer pays, the tickets are sent and when received the money is paid to the seller. My friend cleared a $70 profit.

Obviously this works best as a way to make money if you really keep on top of which bands are popular, which basketball games are going to sell out and so on. This is something that can be learned though, and the losses would not be huge if you started small and grew your business as you learned the ins and outs of scalping tickets.

How Much Can You Make?

Obviously what you can make from buying and selling tickets depends on how in touch you are with what's hot and how motivated you are. You might have to get up in the middle of the night or wait in lines to buy some tickets when they first come out. But my friend tells me that at the time he bought his two tickets he could have purchased a dozen more sets of similar quality. If there were buyers for those thirteen sets would have meant a profit of over $900 for a couple hours work.

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Playoffs and other big sporting events are the ones likely to sell out and attract serious buyers in the secondary market.

With musical groups you want to look for those who have dedicated followers and don't tour too often, so when they do they sell out.

Look for patterns, like all the good seats selling out every time a particular band plays live.

Check online to see what tickets are selling for as a group tours. If front row tickets are doubling the face value every time, get ready to buy and sell those concert tickets at the next venue.

Qualifications / Requirements

Ticket scalping is something anyone with money to buy a couple tickets can try.

First Steps

Buy a couple tickets for a local event, preferably something you would enjoy going to. List them for sale on a site that handles these deals. If you can't sell them for a profit you can at least enjoy the show.


StubHub - On of the leaders in the business of processing ticket scalping deals. Of course they don't call it that, but they will walk you through the process of how to sell tickets to a variety of different events.

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