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NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman: Ticket sales a ‘fixed game’

New York State Attorney Eric Schneiderman speaks

New York State Attorney Eric Schneiderman speaks during a Law Day event at the Court of Appeals on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, in Albany, N.Y. Photo Credit: AP / Hans Pennink


Had a hard time getting a ticket to a concert or sporting event? New York’s attorney general says that’s probably because more than half of tickets to many events are held for industry insiders or otherwise unavailable to the general public.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a report released Thursday that his investigation of the industry was prompted by consumer complaints, which his office receives regularly.

“Ticketing, to put it bluntly, is a fixed game,” the report said. Investigators found abuses and practices that prevent consumers from buying tickets at affordable prices or sometimes even getting them at all.

Investigators found that third-party brokers resell tickets on sites like StubHub and TicketsNow at average margins of 49 percent above face-value and sometimes more than 10 times the price. Some brokers use illegal specialty software, called “ticket bots,” to quickly purchase as many desirable tickets as possible for resale at significant markups, they said.

Venues and sellers like Ticketmaster regularly tacked on fees that added more than 21 percent to the face value, investigators said. They found that on average, 16 percent of tickets are reserved for various industry insiders like the venue employees, artists and promoters, while 38 percent are reserved for presales to certain groups like holders of a particular credit card.

Ticketmaster did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The report also criticized “price floors,” particularly by sports leagues and teams including the NFL and New York Yankees, which are rules meant to prevent tickets from being sold below their face value and that deprive the public of possibly cheaper tickets. Many NFL teams encourage or even require ticket holders to use Ticketmaster’s NFL Ticket Exchange platform, where the seller is prohibited from cutting the price.

“This investigation is just the beginning of our efforts to create a level playing field in the ticket industry,” Schneiderman said.

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