Scalpers drive Harry Potter play prices from £140 to £8,327

What do you get when you combine fantastic wealth-inequality with winner-take-all entertainment economics and high-speed trading algorithms? The Viagogo marketplace, where botmasters who've harvested every available ticket for the new Harry Potter play, Harry Potter & the Cursed Child are auctioning them off to the war-criminals and financiers who've colonized London since the Blair years — with Viagogo trousering a healthy £1,772.53 transaction fee on each ticket.

The production company is trying to detect scalped tickets and turn their bearers away from the door, along with a letter certifying their refusal for use in securing a refund from the scalpers.

It's not just Potter, of course: Burning Man, Hamilton, and other unexpected successes founded on egalitarian/accessible principles are all struggling to figure out what to do about the fact that the internet, combined with the super-rich, combined with high-speed trading and Ebay sniping techniques, can strip-mine the lion's share of tickets for events and turn them over to disinterested oligarchs who view them as status-markers, bucket-list checkboxes, or bribes for business partners (see also: empty bulk-bought corporate seats at the Olympics).

Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, co-chair of a cross-party group looking into ticketing, welcomed the comments from the play's producers but said they "cannot do all of this alone".

"What they need is the support of the government, especially following the publication of the Waterson review earlier this year, which set out a list of recommendations that would help to address the problems seen in the secondary market," said Hodgson, the MP for Washington and Sunderland West.

"To do that the government needs to get on with the job at hand and ensure fans are put first."

Adam Webb, campaign manager for fan group FanFair Alliance, said: "Given the clear terms and conditions applied to the Harry Potter theatre tickets – for example, that any being resold online will be voided, and an email confirmation will be needed to access the show – it seems extraordinary that GetMeIn, Seatwave, StubHub and Viagogo are allowing them to be listed in the first place.

What sorcery is this? A £140 ticket for new Harry Potter play now costs £8,327
[Rob Davies and Laurie Chen/Guardian]

(via Naked Capitalism)