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A couple of bills want to make scalping legal in Missouri.

January 31, 2000
By: Danel Aguirre
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 1725

Jefferson City - Having a ticket to the Rams' Super Bowl game last weekend might have made you feel like a millionaire. But not in Missouri, at least not legally.

Missouri law prohibits resale of a sports game ticket at more than the face value. It's called "scalping" and it is a misdemeanor crime.

But this year, a couple of legislators want to make it legal.

Rep. Jon Dolan, R-Lake St. Louis, has introduced a bill that would legalize the practice of ticket resale.

Dolan said the bill was written "to correct a practice that is already going on, a victimless crime, that only benefits event promoters and brokers."

Under Dolan's proposal, there would be no such thing as a ticket "scalper." Anyone who wanted to would be free to sell their tickets at or above their original worth.

Dolan said that by legalizing ticket scalping, it would permit people to avoid the "established route" of purchasing tickets through authorized brokers. It would also discourage them from traveling to Illinois - where scalping is legal - to buy tickets.

In other words, he said, the bill would reinforce free market.

Senate GOP Leader Steve Ehlmann, R-St. Charles, is sponsoring another bill on scalping. His bill is similar to Illinois law that requires a state license for scalping.

"The philosophy of Dolan's bill is good," Ehlmann said, "but knowing who you are buying your tickets from would provide us a bigger safety against fraud".

Several scalpers outside a recent MU baskeball game where bad weather had diminished attendance, said they were sure that Dolan's bill will not pass.

"It would be like legalizing drugs or something like that," said one scalper, who did not want to reveal his name.

Another scalper said that MU and the Rams would lose money if scalping were legalized, and too many interests are involved the bill to pass.

Dolan said demand for tickets at sold-out events is high, and this should push legislators on making purchases easier for the average people.

"Announcements posted in webpages such as ebay.com show us that people really look for these type of goods," he said.

Problems such as massive purchases of tickets for subsequent resell could be corrected, Dolan proposes, with municipal regulation; limits on buying, or even limits in prizes and issues on consumer protection would be negotiable.

"If the final purpose is maintained, my bill is open to changes," he said.