Winnipeg ticket scalper says he charges 'ethical' 50% markup

A Winnipeg man who has earned thousands of dollars as a ticket scalper says it’s time the government started regulating ticket scalping so customers don’t get gouged.

Man says he was unaware that the practice is illegal

A Winnipeg man who has earned thousands of dollars as a ticket scalper says it’s time the government started regulating ticket scalping so customers don’t get gouged. 2:18

A Winnipeg man who has earned thousands of dollars as a ticket scalper says it's time the government started regulating ticket scalping so customers don't get gouged.

To protect consumers, the man said there should be limits on how much ticket resellers can jack up the prices for popular tickets.

"Normally I don't put more than a 50 per cent markup on the tickets," he said.

It's illegal in Manitoba to charge any markup at all on resold tickets.

"Personally, I didn't even know about it," he said, referring to the Manitoba Amusements Act, which since 1920 has prohibited the sale of event tickets for higher than the original price.

The man granted an interview to CBC News on the condition that he not be identified.

He said the problem lies with online ticket resellers who sometimes take a ticket priced at less than $200 and offer it for vastly inflated prices — sometimes at more than $10,000.

"It's unethical," he said.

"It's just not in my nature. I wouldn't want somebody taking advantage of me. So I don't wanna take advantage of anybody else."

The man said he thinks of his business as a service for people who don't have the time and persistence to go online and get their own tickets that sell out quickly for a popular show.

The ticket scalper's home office includes a laptop computer and venue seating maps. (Katie Nicholson/CBC)
"You make your money, they get to see their concert. It's a win-win deal; everybody walks away from the table happy," he said.

But he added, "When you start doubling, tripling the price, then people start feeling — even though they got their ticket — they still feel resentful and they're gonna complain.

"Maybe what they need to do is put some caps," he said, which would allow scalpers to resell tickets, "but restrict the profit margin of it so people can't be gouged."

"It's just being ethical and human about it."

Ontario proposing legislative changes

Ontario, which has had anti-scalping legislation in place since 1914, is now proposing changes that would allow the resale of tickets at more than face value on the condition the tickets are verified by the original vendor or resold with a money-back guarantee if the ticket turns out to be fraudulent.

A spokesman for that province's Ministry of the Attorney General, Brendan Crawley, said the proposal could help protect consumers from buying fraudulent duplicate tickets.

In 2010, Ontario amended its Ticket Speculation Act to prevent companies like Ticketmaster from selling, and then reselling, tickets through websites it owned.

Ticketmaster has, in the past, drawn the wrath of concert fans with the company's own reselling ventures.

Bruce Springsteen fans in the United States were infuriated in 2009 when Ticketmaster's website redirected buyers to the TicketsNow.com website a wholly owned subsidiary of Ticketmaster where seats were offered at higher prices.

In that case, New Jersey's attorney general reached a settlement with Ticketmaster to pay $350,000 US to the state, but the company did not admit wrongdoing.

Ticketmaster did not respond to an interview request for this story.

'It's the wild, wild west'

At Winnipeg's largest indoor concert venue, the MTS Centre, True North Sports and Entertainment vice-president Kevin Donnelly said if scalping can't be stopped, then it may be time for regulation of the resellers.

"It's the wild, wild west. There is no sheriff. There is nobody that is controlling any of this in the resale world," Donnelly said.

Donnelly suggested creating a registry so ticket brokers would have to register with the venue and clearly list the seat and row numbers they are selling.

As for the scalper who talked to CBC News about his sideline, he said he's just in the business to supplement his income — getting his tickets from Ticketmaster or other online resellers, then offering them back for sale online.

"Moneywise? Yeah, I made a few bucks. Not a lot of bucks, but I made a few bucks," he said, estimating his earnings at about $10,000 since he started scalping a year and a half ago.


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