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NY Attorney General takes aim at high-tech ticket scalpers

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said ticketing in New York is a 'fixed game.'
Billy Steele
January 28, 2016
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The state of New York has been known to take the lead on matters of consumer protection, and it looks like Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will do so once more. Schneiderman's office released a report titled "Obstructed View: What's Blocking New Yorkers from Getting Tickets" that details the "fixed game" of trying to secure admission to high-profile events. Following a three-year investigation, the report discusses an online ticketing business where brokers are use bots and other tech to nab loads of tickets in seconds. Of course, those tickets are then resold at higher prices based on demand.

For an example of just how bad the issue has become, Schneiderman's office found that a broker used a ticket bot to secure 1,012 tickets to a U2 show at Madison Square Garden last year. All of those were grabbed in the first minute tickets were available to the general public. The investigation also found that in some cases over half of tickets are reserved for so-called event insiders and pre-sale buyers before they're available to the masses.

Schneiderman is looking into ticketing fees, too. The report details how sites like Ticketmaster regularly tack on fees of more than 21 percent of the face value. Sometimes those added charges were more than the cost of admission. If you've made a purchase from Ticketmaster or LiveNation, you're well aware that a $75 ticket to see your favorite artist will likely cost you closer to $100 in the end.

"My office will continue to crack down on those who break our laws, prey on ordinary consumers, and deny New Yorkers affordable access to the concerts and sporting events they love," Schneiderman said. "This investigation is just the beginning of our efforts to create a level playing field in the ticket industry."

It'll be interesting to see what the next steps are for the Attorney General's office, but from the sound of it, we won't have to wait long to find out. And when further action is taken, we'll be curious to see if other states will follow New York's lead.

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