D.C. accidentally legalizes ticket scalping

October 15, 2013
Bruce Springsteen at the Verizon Center. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)
Bruce Springsteen at the Verizon Center. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

It used to be against the law to scalp tickets in the District. But thanks to an oversight, scalping is now legal on public property.

The regulations banning scalping were inadvertently left off of recently approved legislation earlier this year, according to a city official. As a result, the D.C. police “cannot make arrests for scalping” right now, said Gwendolyn Crump, a spokeswoman for the department.

This change was first reported by Fox 5.

The D.C. Municipal Regulations had said that nobody could “sell or offer to sell tickets from the sidewalks, streets, or public spaces anywhere in the District of Columbia for any excursion, theatrical performance, opera, ball game, or any entertainment of any kind.”

But when the vending regulations were redone earlier this year in an effort to govern where and how food trucks operate, the section governing ticket scalping was not included, said Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray.

“There was no decision made … to delete it or not include it in the code,” Ribeiro said Tuesday. “It was basically a mistake.”

A D.C. police teletype was issued Friday telling the police “not to make arrests for scalping,” Crump said.

Ribeiro said the “glitch,” which was only discovered recently, occurred because there was debate about which section should house the scalping rules. As a result, it was inadvertently left out, he said.

“Our intent certainly was to include it,” he said.

Ribeiro said that because so many people were working on these regulations, there’s “no way to pinpoint where it fell through” right now. But he said this would be addressed.

Ticket scalping in the District has resulted in headaches for some fans. Earlier this year, Joe Carr was visiting Washington when he was arrested and handcuffed outside Nationals Park. Last year, 11 people were arrested outside Nationals Park in an effort to fight ticket scalping. D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier told WTOP that scalping is “an arrestable offense.”

City officials are talking with the D.C. Council about how and when to add regulations, Ribeiro said.

A change to the regulations could come as soon as next month. The D.C. Council’s next scheduled meeting is Nov. 5.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Mark Berman · October 15, 2013