After tickets to a February 2012, Kalamazoo, MI concert from Elton John were scooped up in a matter of minutes by the suspected use of ticketing bots, Michigan citizens demanded action be taken to stop such an event from happening again. The Michigan House and Senate are currently debating bills that would make it illegal to use or sell ticketing bot software in the state.
Over the past several years, numerous high profile concert ticket sales have been hindered by the suspected use of ticketing bot software. While individuals wait online to purchase tickets, ticketing bots allow their users to jump to the front of the line and purchase large numbers of tickets at one time. This very often leads to concerts and other high profile events selling out in a matter of minutes, leaving the Average Joe with no tickets. Those same tickets will then appear on secondary ticketing sites being sold at above face value.
In an attempt to allow the average consumer a chance at purchasing good seats to high profile events, several states have recently introduced legislation and launched investigations aimed at stopping ticketing bots. In May 2012, the Fan Freedom Project asked the Tennessee Attorney General to investigate suspicious purchases of tickets to an Eric Church concert. States that have recently considered laws that would ban the use of ticketing bots include New Jersey, Connecticut, and Minnesota.
The Michigan House of Representatives and Senate launched two bills earlier this summer aimed at changing the state’s current ticketing laws. The first prong of the bill would ban the use of ticketing bots to purchase tickets within the state. This aspect of the bill appears to have won a broad range of support from organizations such as the Fan Freedom Project, the American Conservative Union, and the Institute of Liberty. Under the proposed law, those found to be using or selling ticketing bot software could face up to 93 days in jail or a fine of $500.00.
The second prong of the proposed bill has met some public pushback. It would put an end to Michigan’s current law allowing venues to bar ticket holders from reselling or transferring tickets. The topic of ticket resale has consistently been a hot-button issue. States remain divided on the issue, although recent trends have seen more and more states allowing for ticket resale, both with and without price capping restrictions.
The proposed Michigan law would allow the free resale of tickets to entertainment events. Tickets could be resold at whatever price the market dictates, rather than having consumers rely on gaining the permission of a venue to resell the tickets at above face value. While some organizations, such as the aforementioned Fan Freedom Project, have lauded this proposed change to Michigan’s law, others feel it is an attempt to cater to secondary ticketing websites.
“Unfortunately, the new ticketing bills being proposed are a wolf in sheep’s clothing — supported by StubHub and other out-of-state special interests that profit off of the exorbitant markups that scalpers charge fans,” Lucinda Treat, Palace Sports & Entertainment executive vice president of business operations and strategy, told The Detroit News. Treat also told The Detroit News that the new law would “do more harm than good” should it be passed by the Michigan Congress.
Should these two laws pass, Michigan will become the latest state to move to take down ticketing bots and to allow for unlimited ticket resale. In both instances, it has become clear that these appear to be two of the most prominent ticketing debates currently on a state level throughout the United States.