Should Public Policy Favor Ticket Resellers?

Should Public Policy Favor Ticket Resellers?

Lawrence White, an economist at NYU wrote a commentary on Huffington Post in support of ticket transferability and the State of New York’s recent renewal of a law, “that allows venues to sell non-transferable paperless tickets only if buyers have the option of a transferable alternative, including the right to resell their ticket above or below face value as they see fit…”

The gist of White’s position …if you buy the ticket, you should own it, and be able to do with it as you wish — use it, resell it, or give it away. That is where a secondary market comes in… [t]hese developments give flexibility to a first-instance ticket buyer, whether because the buyer cannot attend an event because of changed plans, or because the buyer wants to sell some of a multi-event series of tickets such as a season ticket. They also benefit the late-instance buyer whose plans change so that attending the event is now a possibility.

I agree with notion that a ticket should be transferable. There are too many inconveniences and short sighted outcomes when tickets are restricted from resale. However, the law should not dictate transferability, especially when the secondary ticket market is largely driven by profit motivated resellers. A comment posted by Ejay McCarthy in response to Professor White’s article claimed, “I tried to buy Justin Bieber tickets for my nieces, but it was sold out in a matter of minutes. Go to ebay right now and you can find them from 200 per ticket all the way up to 3500 per ticket.” That experience has been shared by more than enough average consumers to fill Madison Square Garden to capacity. The secondary market still has too many options for crowding out the public from primary ticket sales.

Public policy that dictates ticket transferability is unnecessary. Why not have laws that regulate the number of tickets resellers can acquire from the primary market? They do not exist because laws like that would interfere with the free market.