Police prepared for Masters ticket scalpers
Selling tickets to the Masters Tournament is illegal near Augusta National Golf Club, but each year police find themselves dealing with visitors trying to score last-minute admission.
The state scalping law prohibits the sale of tickets within 2,700 feet of a large sporting event.
That boundary during the Masters runs from Taco Bell on Washington Road to Calhoun Expressway and Highland Avenue. The same rules apply for licensed brokers.
Signs placed around Augusta National remind potential buyers and sellers about the law, but violations still occur.
In 2012, more than 40 people were jailed in connection with buying or selling tickets, but only two were charged with violating the scalping law. Most of the others were charged with disorderly conduct and made to post a $500 bond.
The majority were not from Georgia and claimed ignorance of the law. Most forfeited their bond money in lieu of a fine, but 17 chose to go to court and had their cases dismissed.
Although the sheriff’s office has not charged anyone in connection to violating the law since that year, there have been plenty of warnings.
Lt. Allan Rollins, who has worked outside the gates looking for scalpers in the past, said they try to be as nice as possible, but there’s still a possibility for some undercover observations by deputies.
“We just basically tell them to move along,” he said.
Tickets will be seized and jail time is
possible if the sellers or buyers persist, he said.
The main issue for deputies is potential buyers or sellers lining up near the golf course hopeful for a last-minute transaction. That creates a safety hazard in a high traffic area and an aggravation for real ticket holders, say authorities.
“A few years ago we had juveniles who were up chest bumping people asking for their tickets,” Rollins said. “We didn’t appreciate that.”
Those who want a legitimate last-minute ticket are advised to go directly to licensed brokers beyond the 2,700-foot boundary. The city licensing department will also be checking to make sure brokers are in the correct zone and have the correct paperwork to operate. But there’s always the danger of counterfeit and stolen tickets.
Every year police see hopeful Masters-goers turned away after learning their tickets were stolen.
Rollins said tickets are stolen everywhere from mailboxes to auto break-ins and then resold at a high price online.
Last year an Augusta man met a man named Mike at a Washignton Road gas station and traded his practice round ticket and $3,600 for two tournament badges that later turned out to be stolen.
A Los Angeles man also filed a report after he was escorted from the course when the $2,000 ticket he purchased turned out to be stolen.
Rollins said anytime the tickets don’t come from Augusta National Golf Club there’s a risk.