China’s new national standard for event admissions to put damper on ticket scalpers
Published: Sep 12, 2021 06:49 PM
The musical performance Monument Photo: Courtesy of Forbidden City Concert Hall

The musical performance Monument Photo: Courtesy of Forbidden City Concert Hall

Yi Yun (pseudonym), an employee at an entertainment company, was very excited to get a ticket to a movie premiere sent to her from a friend, an insider in the studio. But when she entered the theater, she was shocked as a group of middle-aged men and women rushed toward her and asked if she would like to sell the ticket to them at a higher price.

"I felt sick and even a bit scared when they besieged me," Yi Yun told the Global Times. 

"I refused them. Later, I saw them selling tickets to some young people and realized that the stars of the movie would also be at the premiere ceremony, and that many fans of the stars dreamed of getting a ticket so that they could see their idolson site," she said, noting that she realized she had just been besieged by ticket scalpers.  

Yi is not the first person to run afoul of such scalpers. As the number of cultural activities such as concerts, operas and new exhibitions at museums has increased, some ticket scalpers have seen an opportunity to turn a hefty profit by selling tickets to these events on the second-hand trade market. 

"I worked as a ticket scalper for many years. One of my most profitable events was a Jay Chou concert in Tianjin two years ago. I easily made 10,000 yuan ($1,551) from the event," one former scalper said. 

Wu Xiaolin, a lawyer from the Beijing-based Yingke Law Firm, told the Global Times on Sunday that that some ticketing companies had established a "dark trade" with these individuals. Driven by profit, some ticketing companies only sell a small limited number of tickets at regular prices to create the illusion that the tickets are sold out, but then sell the remaining tickets to scalpers through private channels. These scalpers in turn resell these tickets at much higher prices through online platforms and other channels.

"What these scalpers are doing is illegal," Wu said, explaining that according to China's Public Security Administration Penalty Law anyone who forges, alters or resells theatrical performance tickets, sports competition tickets or other commercial tickets or vouchers shall be jailed for 10 days to 15 days and may also be up to 1,000 yuan. If circumstances are less serious, they shall be jailed for five to 10 days and may also be fined up to 500 yuan.

In August, four people suspected of selling internal test tickets to Universal Studios in Beijing were detained by the police in Tongzhou district. The four allegedly resold the tickets at prices ranging from 1,000 yuan to 5,000 yuan, far higher than the 418 to 748 yuan that tickets will go for once the park officially opens. 

On August 19, China's Ministry of Cultural and Tourism issued the first domestic industry standard for event tickets, which aims to unify the standardized services throughout the event industry including ticket purchases, verification and refunds and formulate basic ticketing rules for the performance industry.