Michigan Bills Aim to Allow Ticket Scalping While Fighting Online Price Manipulators

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Michigan lawmakers are working to remove criminal penalties for reselling tickets while targeting online scalpers who jack up prices using artificial means.

The summary of the legislation is available to read here.

Senate Bills 384 and 385 are being sponsored by State Sens. Tom Barrett (R-24-Charlotte) and Erika Geiss (D-06-Taylor).

Provisions would include:

  • Delete various provisions pertaining to the prohibition of the sale of tickets for admission to a theatre, circus, athletic game, or place of public entertainment or amusement at prices greater than what are printed on the tickets.
  • Delete the misdemeanor penalty for violating the provisions described above.
  • Prohibit a person from knowingly selling, giving, transferring, using, distributing, or possessing with the intent to distribute software that was primarily designed or produced to interfere with certain ticket sale operations.
  • Prohibit a person owning, operating, or controlling a ticket website for an event scheduled at a venue in Michigan from using an internet domain name or subdomain thereof in the ticket website’s URL (uniform resource locator) that contained certain information.
  • Prohibit a ticket seller from contracting for the sale of tickets or accepting consideration for payment in full or for a deposit for the sale of tickets unless the ticket seller met certain requirements.
  • Specify that a person that violated the bill would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a maximum fine of $500, or both.

According to the summary, the bills would prevent interfering with ticket sale operations “over the internet by circumventing any measures or controls on the seller’s website that were instituted to enforce event ticket purchasing limits or to maintain the integrity of online purchasing order rules.”

The bills would end the rarely enforced 88-year-old ban on scalping that makes scalping a misdemeanor, Michigan Live reported. Similar legislation has failed several times, including in 2018.

Barrett said that will set things right.

“In Michigan right now it would be more legal to roll marijuana into your ticket and smoke it than it would be to sell it to another concert-goer,” Barrett said. “To me, that’s wrong. We’re decriminalizing a lot of activity in our state at this time, I think that effort is in large part a good thing.”

According to the legislation summary, “A person who violated the bill would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a maximum fine of $500, or both.”

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.

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