Dec. 12, 2013
With the Denver Broncos currently in first place in the AFC and with playoff berth locked, a lot of fans will be trying to get to a Bronco game. If not lucky enough to have tickets, the average fan can expect to pay a lot of money to watch their beloved Broncos try and get to the Super Bowl. This is because ticket scalping is still very much alive and well in Denver.
Some of you may be wondering, is ticket scalping illegal, and if so, is that law enforced? In Denver, the answers are yes and yes. Sports Authority Field at Mile High is a hotbed of scalping on a game day, especially when it plays host to one of the best teams in the NFL playing at such a high level. To keep these transactions in check, the Denver Police Department deploys undercover police officers to bust scalpers red-handed. The violation itself, Sale of Tickets at a Premium, is relatively lower level offense. It is neither a felony nor a misdemeanor, but rather a municipal code violation. However, it is still an offense that can result in an arrest, affect a criminal record, and carries the possibility of up to one year in the county jail.
Scalping may be a frowned upon practice, but why does it have to be illegal? Why do we expend the limited resources of the police to stop what is essentially the free market at work? This is especially complicated with the existence of websites such as craigslist.com and stubhub.com, which allow fans to scalp tickets online without the possibility of criminal liability, because online scalping is not against the law. After all, if I can’t go to a game, and someone is perfectly willing to part with $500 a ticket, isn’t this a win-win situation? Why do violators need to be arrested, prosecuted, and inserted into the criminal justice system? How can it be fair that it is illegal to do this at the stadium, but perfectly acceptable to do this online?
The Denver Police Department does not have a good answer for this other than the token response: “It’s the law, and it will be enforced.” We defense lawyers would suggest that there are much more valuable ways to utilize police resources than to go after these opportunists, but until the Denver City Council agrees with us and changes the law, be careful if you are trying to unload these sought after tickets near Mile High- what seems like a benign business transaction can land you in jail.