The Street Spirit Has Not Faded Out Just Yet: A Criminological Exploration of the Street Methods of U.K. Ticket Touts in a Time of Bots and Illegal Online Resale

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The phenomenon of buying and reselling tickets for profit, known in the United Kingdom as ticket touting, can offer insights into the online–offline overlaps of contemporary illicit-market activities. While the technological advancements of the last decades have revolutionized the way in which tickets for U.K. concerts and sporting events are bought and sold, traditional forms of offline touting are arguably far from extinct. And yet the focus and efforts of campaigners, the media, and of (some) members of parliament have been dedicated entirely to the online aspect of illegal ticket resale. Indeed, legislation banning the use of “bots” to purchase tickets was introduced in 2017, and additional measures that only target the online methods of a so-called new generation of touts are again being considered. Empirical data collected through observations outside music venues and football stadia alongside in-depth qualitative interviews with contemporary touts, however, reveal a very different picture. Not only is street touting surviving and thriving, new evidence suggests that the touts’ traditional street spirit and deviant savoir-faire are now effectively being emulated by the same online resale companies that stakeholders are trying to target. In fact, the failed attempts to curb this much-vilified practice can in part be attributed to a widespread neglect of the touts’ traditional offline practices. In particular, the touts’ use of creative strategies to deceive and manipulate consumers, and to exploit longstanding, favorable connections within the official, primary market, continue to elude experts. The article situates touting alongside other illicit-market phenomena that, although impacted by recent technological innovations, still rely on original forms of offline offending. While street touting is seldom mentioned in the debates on regulating tickets, it is the very connection between the illegal resale market's online and offline aspects that could shed light on the areas that most require attention and reform, beyond technology and the bots.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Criminal Justice Review
Number of pages23
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Georgia State University.

    Research areas

  • cybercrime, entrepreneurship, ethnography, street crime, ticket touting

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