Ticket Touting – A Spanish Legal Loophole

money-saving-moralsIn 1982, when the World Cup was hosted in Spain, a law was passed making ticket touting illegal in the street. This law has never been updated, and, in the digital age, you can find dedicated websites to buy and sell tickets for concerts and sports events – but are they legal?

Haven’t Ticket Touts Always Been Around?

Before the “anonymity” of online ticket touting, it was usual to see adverts either in the street or in specialist second hand newspapers advertising “pencil 500€ with a free Real Madrid vs Barcelona ticket”. This way people would get around the law saying that the ticket was just a freebie.

Near stadiums and concert arenas, plain-clothed policemen were always on the lookout (and still are) for touts; but if you wanted a ticket, and were willing to pay, you could usually find one.

Unfortunately there was no way of knowing if the ticket bought was genuine or not, leaving many people disappointed when they were not allowed entrance if the ticket was a forgery.

The Online Solution

The major website for buying and selling tickets is Ticketbis, a Spanish company launched in 2009 and currently present in over a dozen countries including the UK and USA.

In order to sell your unwanted tickets, sellers must:

  • Register and provide a credit/debit card number with an expiry date after the event
  • Choose which payment method they prefer to receive payment
  • Upload details of the event and fix the price they want (Ticketbis will add 10% to the price – their commission – plus sales tax)
  • Send tickets to buyer within 72 hours after accepting an offer

Payment by buyers is made via the Ticketbis online platform and Ticketbis will not pass this money onto the seller until after the event has taken place. In this way the company ensures that the tickets are genuine and that the buyer has been able to use them.

(For further details check the full T&C in English or Spanish).

You can also sell and buy at online sites such as Segundamano or Mil Anuncios, however these sites do not intervene in the sale and you won’t be able to claim a refund if things go wrong.

So, Is It Legal Or Not?

A quick internet search brings up no clear answers, with most legal experts saying that even though the 1982 law doesn’t mention online sales, the spirit of the law makes online ticket touting illegal. The fact that there are companies that are making a profit from touting leads people to question whether this is a clear case of flaunting the law.

However, it seems that event organisers, football clubs and similar aren’t interested in the legality or not as long as they are able to sell all their tickets.


There is a recent development in ticket sales online where the buyer must attend the event and photo ID will be required to gain entry. Although buyers can opt-out of this requirement, many don’t even realise it when they’re up against the clock online to buy tickets to a popular event. So, if you’re thinking of buying to sell later make sure you check first.


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