TICKET scalping could be legalised, replaced with special ballots or eliminated via a hi-tech mobile phone system under a range of options being considered to stamp out the trade.
The NSW Office of Fair Trading will today launch an online survey to find out for the first time how much scalpers are preying on sports lovers and diehard music fans, often teenagers.
It follows the successful call from NSW Fair Trading Minister Virginia Judge for a national review of scalping.
The practice's legality varies from state to state. In NSW it is illegal to sell tickets at key sporting grounds, while in Queensland police also monitor the internet for onsold tickets.
On eBay yesterday, tickets for the touring US supergroup the Eagles were being sold for $4000 a pair - three times the maximum "platinum" price of $669 a ticket.
Tickets for Metallica, which are officially $150 per ticket, were being sold for $1500 for et of four.
An issues paper for the national review canvassed a number of options, including:
- Legalising ticket-scalping to create more competition;
- Regulated online auctions to onsell tickets;
- A lottery to distribute tickets;
- Sending ticket details to a mobile phone with a special barcode; and
- Using only virtual tickets which are effectively impossible to transfer, as done for the first time in a major tour by teenage singer Miley Cyrus last year.
The issues paper noted that ticket onselling can sometimes be positive for consumers because it effectively lets the market decide what the right price is.
Prices may have to go up across the board to eliminate the practice if it is found that tickets are being sold too cheaply in the first place.
Illegal music downloads are contributing to this because performers are under pressure to have sell-out concerts. This leads to tickets being issued early and cheap.
No one knows the true impact of scalping on the economy - hence the review. However, box office sales in the performing arts industry alone amounted to $356 million in 2006-07.
The paper noted that scalping was legal in almost every state in the US after it was argued "an increase in the number of legal resellers would increase competition and prices would fall".
Ms Judge said Fair Trading received only 40 complaints in the past five years.