Investigation Alleges Ticket Fixing for Music, Sports Events

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A decent seat to a popular event costs more than it should and the average fan has almost no chance to buy a ticket at face value, according to the results of a three-year investigation of the ticket industry in New York that has been obtained by ABC News.

The New York State Attorney General's investigation found less than half of tickets for concerts, sports and other events are reserved for the public. Most are held for the venue, the performer, the promoter or for pre-sale to insiders.

Much of what is released ends up with brokers who resell at a markup, the study found. In an extreme case, cited in the report, a $79 ticket to One Direction at the Beacon Theater in New York City was sold for $4,635. The brokers illegally use special software, bots, to buy at high speeds. Some 1,012 tickets for U2 at Madison Square Garden in 2015 were gobbled in one minute.

The office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found “tens of thousands of tickets per year, at least, are being acquired using this illegal software.” Once brokers seize the tickets they also tack on “high fees for unclear purposes,” the report said.

There was a $42 surcharge to see professional bull riding at Madison Square Garden, $28 to see Janet Jackson at Jones Beach Theater, according to the investigation.

Part of the attorney general’s investigation, a source briefed told ABC News, includes the NFL over its use of "price floors" that prevent tickets from being sold below face value.

The AG's office said it is concerned that "price floors" fool buyers "into believing what they are getting is the market price for a ticket, when in fact the buyer is paying a price artificially inflated by a price floor," even when tickets could go for less when demand falls, the report says.

The AG’s office has reached deals with two unlicensed ticket brokers.

“Ticketing is a fixed game,” Schneiderman said.

The report, the settlements and the NFL probe together signal the start of a broad investigation into the whole ticket industry.

Among the suggestions the report makes are imposing criminal penalties for bot use and capping resale markups.

The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.