New York Attorney General Describes Ticketing Industry as 'A Fixed Game,' Exposes Abuses in Report

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Bono and Adam Clayton perform onstage during the U2 "iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE" tour at Madison Square Garden on July 31, 2015 in New York City.

A three-year investigation by the New York attorney general's office has culminated in a report to be released Thursday exposing abuses throughout the state's ticket industry. 

Among the most egregious violations are free tickets for an appearance by Pope Francis that were possibly illegally resold for thousands of dollars, up to half the tickets for popular shows restricted from the general public and more than 1,000 tickets to one U2 concert bought by a tech savvy scalper in less than a minute, The New York Times reports. 

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The report, titled "Why Can’t New Yorkers Get Tickets?" spans realms of entertainment from concerts to sports and beyond, examining how online ticket scalping has given online brokers an upperhand at the expense of fans. 

The landscape for scalping changed in 2007 as New York state restrictions were largely eased due to the popularization of online sales. But, according to the report, web sales have developed to create a marketplace that's mostly illegal. Much of the online ticket sales are attributed to seats snagged by illegal bots. As well, many resale brokers are operating without a license from the state. 

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"Ticketing is a fixed game," New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman told the The New York Times in a statement. "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. This investigation is just the beginning of our efforts to create a level playing field in the ticket industry."

Otherwise, the report states the legal practice of large ticket holds and pre-sales has grown as a trend to restrict what average fans can buy. Looking at 10 shows from popular acts such as Coldplay and Fleetwood Mac, the report said that up to 70 percent of tickets were reserved for pre-sales. 

The report recommends that concert promoters be more transparent about how tickets are released to the public and encourages secondary ticket markets to better regular their platforms.