U.K. mega-producer Cameron Mackintosh’s experiment in thwarting scalpers using paperless tickets for the London production of Hamilton appears to have some holes.
According to a report in the London newspaper The Guardian, tickets began appearing on secondary ticket websites for between £999 and £2,500 each within two hours of their going on sale January 16, despite the producer’s efforts to prevent such resales. The face value of the tickets is £37.50 to £127.50.
According to an earlier report in The Daily Mail, the ticketing experiment began January 16 when 110,000 people who pre-registered on a priority list were issued electronic tickets. The goal was to block scalpers (called “touts” in London) who buy up premium seats, then offer them for re-sale at massively inflated prices. It remains to be seen if the production will accept the resold electronic tickets when the holders arrive at the theatre. Ticket holders have to go to the theatre with a confirmation email, the credit card used for the booking, and photo ID.
Nick Allott, managing director of Cameron Mackintosh Limited, had explained that buyers wouldn’t get physical tickets until they arrive at the theatre.
“Once the seat has been purchased, people will get an email with instructions. They’ll know where they are sitting, and everything is confirmed,” Allott told the Mail, saying that he expects the system will prevent half of ticket scalping.
But the Guardian quoted security consultant and ticketing expert Reg Walker, of Iridium Consultancy, explaining how the scalpers were getting around the security system. “It’s viable for a tout to buy four tickets, sell three of them, then go with you to the box office to pick them up using his credit card. He can then walk the ticket purchasers in and walk out again, or even watch the show himself.”
“At those prices it’s still worth it for them because they make enough on three of the tickets that they don’t mind losing the money they spent on the fourth,” he was reported saying.
Regular tickets go on sale to the general public January 30.
In the U.S., Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has publicly supported federal legislation to criminalize operators of computerized scalping programs called “ticket bots.”