Michigan House Votes to End Ban on Legal Ticket Resale

IndustryLegalTop Story

September 23, 2020
Dave Clark 0

State lawmakers in Michigan voted Tuesday to repeal a longtime ban on legal ticket resale in the state. A pair of bills passed the house by wide margins – 93-12 and 91-14 – and will now be considered by the Senate. The upper chamber had passed legislation removing the ticket resale ban in January, and will be deciding whether the newly passed bills by the lower chamber are similar enough to their legislation to be moved to the governor’s desk.

Introduced by Sen. Erika Geiss (D) and Sen. Tom Barrett (R), the legislation approved this week removes the penalty for selling tickets for above face value, which has been in place since 1931. Currently, those found to be in violation of the provision can be charged with a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail or a $500 fine.

If it passes, the legislation will remove the outdated ban on ticket resale, with some restrictions. Those engaged in ticket resale would be required to have tickets listed for sale in their possession or inform the purchaser if they do not at the time of the sale and again at 48 hours prior to kickoff. There are also restrictions on how websites can market tickets listed for sale including the use of venue or team names in certain contexts. Resale opponents frequently push for such language in any ticketing bill claiming such restrictions clamp down on misleading websites, but the end result is conveniently advantageous for venue and primary ticket company search engine optimization and customer acquisition.

The bill also bans the use of automated programs (AKA “bots”) to purchase tickets in bulk. Violations of the provisions in the new law carry penalties of up to 93 days in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.

Similar bills have been pushed in recent years by Michigan lawmakers, but failed to pass the full body despite the law itself being seldom enforced (and more or less impossible to impose on resale marketplaces located outside of the state). In 2018, such a bill passed the House by a 71-36 margin, but failed to pass the senate.

Michigan House Votes to End Ban on Legal Ticket Resale