Three ways to get Raptors tickets in the new scalper economy
The ticket resale industry is in flux. For ages, it was illegal to resell for profit, which spawned a bustling black market, by which we mean those sketchy gents outside the ACC whispering, “Ayo, you need?” Recent legislation changes all that. Resale for profit is now legal, provided sellers can guarantee authenticity or offer a money-back option. Online marketplaces have jumped into the fray, threatening the old-school scalper and leaving the rest of us wondering if the tickets we just bought are legit.
Lately, the success of the Raptors has drawn huge crowds to the ACC, and scalpers are right in the middle of it. One of them told Toronto Life that he has been buying Raptors playoff tickets for $200 and selling them for around $300—a nice profit margin. But the team’s surging popularity has choked off scalpers’ main supply of cheap tickets: resale from ordinary fans who don’t want them. Plus, the influx of crowds into Jurassic Park has forced about 40 scalpers off their usual turf, pushing them into other scalpers’ territory.
Here, a guide to the new resale reality.
The old school scalper
The skinny: These resale gurus turn a profit a few different ways. They either acquire blocks of tickets from shadowy companies that buy in bulk and then take a cut of the sales, buy cheaply from individuals trying to off-load their seats and sell at a profit, or hit Ticketmaster for events that’ll generate a healthy resale markup.
What it costs: Depending on the event, the weather, the day of the week and how many buyers you’re competing with, you might pay a fortune. One scalper picked up five tickets to the NBA All-Star Game for $200 each and turned them around for $500 each, pocketing $1,500 in profit. On the flip side, at the end of a recent Leafs game, another scalper took home $600 worth of tickets he couldn’t sell.
Is it legal? Nope—neither the selling nor the buying.
Risk factor: Moderate. Cops usually have better things to do than bust a random buyer. When they do crack down, they usually target the sellers. Technically, violations carry a fine up to $5,000, but it usually tops out at $500. To the scalpers, it’s the cost of doing business.
Scalpers by territory: who owns what turf
The legal reseller
The skinny: Online marketplaces like SeatGeek and StubHub provide the meeting place for buyers and sellers, then manage the transaction and delivery of tickets. The seller sets the sale price, and the company charges the buyer a service fee. Transactions are in U.S. dollars.
Is it legal? Yes.
What it costs: A little extra in fees and commissions in exchange for not getting ripped off—and not breaking any laws.
Risk factor: Low. StubHub and SeatGeek offer money-back guarantees, and Ticketmaster’s service, TM+, officially verifies the tickets that are sold. Under Ontario law, resold tickets have to be guaranteed legitimate by the source or backed up with a money-back guarantee. In StubHub’s case, the FanProtect Guarantee promises that the company will try to find ticket buyers a replacement in the event of fraud.
The illegitimate reseller
The skinny: On resale forums like Kijiji and Craigslist, sellers post seat locations and asking price, the buyer negotiates by email or phone, money is exchanged via email money transfer or in person, and tickets are handed over.
What it costs: Depends on your negotiating skills. But there are no service fees!
Is it legal? Not usually. Because Kijiji and Craigslist are really just online forums, transactions rarely include money-back guarantees or methods to verify authenticity.
Risk factor: Moderate to high. There’s no guarantee your ticket is a real one, and there’s not much recourse if you get ripped off.