Michigan’s House of Representatives has voted to repeal a long-standing but seldom-enforced ban against ticket resale above face value, which moves to the Senate for its consideration. The bill was passed by a 71-36 vote Wednesday of last week. A similar attempt at repealing the resale ban – which is a misdemeanor that can carry a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail or $500 fine – was passed by the House in 2014, but failed to pass the Senate, according to reporting by the Associated Press.
“This is the third term in a row [a bill has been up that would eliminate the blanket ban on resale in Michigan], says State Rep Tim Kelly, who characterized the existing regulation as an old law that needs to go. “[It] is the most accommodating bill I think that we’ve arrived at as yet to try to appease some of those that have been against or opposed all along. We’re one of a handful of remaining states [to ban resale]. This has been on the books since the 1930’s; so things have changed, and this is the last bastion.”
While the bill removes the ban on resale, it does add several new restrictions on the business it sanctions. It officially bans “software that is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of interfering with the ticket sale operations… over the internet by circumventing any measures or controls on the seller’s website that are instituted to ensure an equitable sale process (aka “Bots” – already illegal per the federal government). Similarly outlawed in the act are the use of venue, event, or performer names in subdomains or website URLs unless the website is acting on behalf of the event producer.
Some concerns have been raised by the bill. The language regarding subdomains and URLs is extraordinarily vague, and could serve in practice to restrict the ability of resale platforms to use even the most basic search engine optimization techniques (such as including the name of the performer or venue in their URL structure).
More notably, there are rumors that the Detroit Tigers are waiting for its passage to cull its season ticket holder list and consolidate its business with one out of state ticket broker. That would fall squarely amongst the concerns listed by State Rep Julie Alexander, who voted “no” on the house bill, but hopes the Senate makes changes that will address where she sees issues. “The ability of out-of-state buyers [to] go online [and] buy up a large portion of tickets and then resell them at the detriment of that venue,” was one such issue. “Hopefully [the Senate]will put those pieces in place that address my concern.”