Raising cash in a hurry #3: Scalp some tickets

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Update May 2009: Major league baseball attendance is off almost 5% this year, which demonstrates an important rule of recession scalping: snap up the hot tickets and leave the rest. Make a bad choice and you could end up eating the ticket instead of a steak.

So you're broke, and you need money, and it suddenly occurs to you that you are sitting on concert tickets to High School Musical: The Ice Show, or Hannah Montana. If the water dept. is threatening to cut you off for non-payment, scalping those tickets could save you from a dirty, smelly fate.

In circumstances such as this, a rational person will consider scalping the tickets to recoup their investment, or perhaps even realize some profit. However, proceed with caution. While it is generally legal to resell tickets for what you paid for them or less, some states frown on selling them for more. Check you state laws for scalping restrictions.

You could go the Internet route to sell your ducats, on sites such as StubHub.com. If you're thinking of selling them on eBay, you can fill out a form to learn if your state allows or disallows it by clicking here.

If you decide to sell them in person, you still have some options. Spread the word to family and friends, understanding that if you charge a premium you will become the black sheep of the family. You could also go to the event on the night it is to take place and work the entrance area. Scalpers customarily hold tickets up and repeat 'Got two," or however many you might have. Show up early, and if the event is a sellout, you'll probably find fulltime scalpers that will make you an offer to take the tickets off your hands.

Many people take this strategy one step further, and buy tickets to events with the intent of scalping them later. This is a form of gambling that few people can do successfully, though.

When a ticket or two is all that is standing in the way of your economic relief, at the cost of missing a couple of hours of entertainment, it seems perfectly understandable and ethical -- at least to me -- to sell or scalp your ticket and try to get as much money as someone is willing to pay.

Bottom Line:If you don't mind playing salesman, this lead is an almost sure thing -- unless you have tickets for some obscure show that nobody cares about.

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).

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