State House approves ticket scalping bill

Inside the rotunda in the Michigan Capitol in Lansing.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Reselling tickets to sports events, concerts, plays and more could be legal in Michigan under legislation approved Wednesday by the state House.

The bill, approved 70-40, would remove the state’s scalping ban and penalties on reselling tickets at a price above face value. Democrats, who largely opposed the measure, were able to add an amendment aimed at preventing people from using software programs, known as bots, to buy large numbers of tickets.

Rep. Sam Singh, a Democrat from East Lansing, said the amendment would provide a tool for venues to prosecute people who use bots to buy more tickets than allowed, and ultimately benefit consumers in the long term.

“The amendment tries to level the playing field between the individual consumer and those that use technology to purchase tickets using… ticket bots that would buy up more tickets than the venue would allow,” he said in an interview after the vote.

The legislation now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation died last year.

Proponents say the ticket-scalping ban is outdated, and that more than 30 other states don’t have such a ban. Bill sponsor Rep. Tim Kelly, a Republican from Saginaw Township, said the change will help fans and allow the market to set prices.

But those who favor keeping the ban — including major venues from around the state — argue that a ban protects consumers against excessive ticket markups.

Last week, representatives from major venues across the state testified against the bill. Among them was Jarrod Bradford, director of ticketing for the Wharton Center at Michigan State University. He said the bill would remove the ability of ticket venues to ensure tickets go to patrons and not to scalpers, who sell them for much more than face value even though similar, lower-priced tickets are available through the venue.

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