Tickets into the Olympics

Michael Giberson

Ticket scalping, like price gouging, is a usually pro-social market activity that is stuck with a pejorative name.  At Swifter, Higher, sportswriter Kyle Whelliston writes about his experience picking up a cheap ticket into the first hockey game of the Vancouver Olympics.  It wasn’t as easy as he hoped, but at a cost of missing the first few minutes of action he was able to get a price he liked.

What surprised me in the article was how well organized the gray-market activity was. I wonder whether the Olympics would increase or decrease overall ticket revenue by facilitating an active secondary market (assuming a secondary market was legal in the host country).

(Via Freakonomics blog.)

3 thoughts on “Tickets into the Olympics

  1. Unlike many market-oriented economists, I’m not convinced that ticket-scalping bans are bad. The ticket issuers could, if they wanted, charge a price high enough to eliminate the scalping — but they don’t. Why not? They must have a reason for forgoing the added revenue. Rock bands, for instance, might want to make increase future demand by making sure younger people are able to afford tickets.

    As a matter of property rights, the ticket issuers should be able to sell tickets on whatever terms they want. If they want to sell non-transferable tickets, that’s their right.

    Of course, there is a question about the state’s level of involvement. But I don’t have any problem in principle with the state helping to enforce contracts, and it seems like that’s the essence of what is happening.

  2. Interesting point, but obviously a ticket-scalping ban is not “helping to enforce contracts,” so much as trying to impose non-transferability whether or not ticket issuers prefer that form of contract. (

    Though I’d admit that ticket issuers probably supported anti-resale laws historically. Only as technology is making it easier for the seller to be the reseller, too, have some ticket issuers relaxed their interest in anti-resale laws.)

  3. Do you know of any instances in which anti-resale laws have been enforced despite the objection of the original seller? My perception is that these laws are enforced because the specific ticket-seller (not just ticker-sellers in general) wanted it.

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