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Proposal seeks to impose harsh fines on serial ticket resellers

LANSING — A new proposal in the state House would tamp down on the automated ticket resale industry, hopefully reducing event prices for consumers. “These bipartisan bills would prohibit using technology to unfairly obtain a large number of tickets,” said Jason Evans, head of the state’s consumer protection team.

The legislation institutes harsh fines for resellers using bots to circumvent an event’s ticket purchase limit, up to $5,000 per ticket bought.

Federal law already prohibits resellers from using bots to get around purchase limits, but supporters say that statute has been used sparingly and that consumers still deal with the problem regularly.

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“With modern technology, even unsophisticated crooks can make it nearly impossible for a consumer to attend a live event,” Evans said. “Although venues set ticket limits, technology makes it easy to buy tickets in excess of the limit or to jump in line to purchase tickets.”

America’s issues with ticket purchases have come to the forefront with Taylor Swift’s eras tour. Bots and resellers purchased many available tickets from Ticketmaster before fans even had access, driving resale prices up by hundreds or thousands of dollars.

“This harms the entertainment industry and harms consumers by creating an unnecessary financial barrier,” said Rep. Mike McFall, D-Hazel Park.

Under the proposal, consumers would be able to report possible violations to the attorney general’s office, which could investigate and impose civil fines in state court.

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Supporters also said the legislation could be a draw for tourists to the state — if Michigan is known as the state where fans can easily see their favorite artists for a lower price, advocates say the business and events will follow.

Sean Auyash, a representative from StubHub, a ticket reselling platform, spoke in support of the proposal, saying it would level the playing field for fans.

“StubHub supports public policies that empower consumers and ensure a safe, transparent, and competitive ticket marketplace,” he said. We believe a competitive marketplace provides consumers greater access to the events they want to experience and the ability to purchase tickets at a fair and market driven price.”

The legislation has broad support and could be passed into law before this year’s Lions season kicks off.

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