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Michigan bills to regulate use of ticket bots scheduled for hearing


Michigan legislation set for a committee hearing Tuesday would tighten the state’s laws against using ticket bots.

It’s already a misdemeanor in Michigan to use software to mess with ticket sale operations.

The bill package would set civil fines on top of that, and allow the state attorney general to step in and take violators to court.

State Representative Mike McFall (D-Hazel Park) said it’s a matter of consumer protection.

“People should have the opportunity to actually take their family and their kids to go see a concert without having to pay like outrageous pricing to do it,” McFall said.

McFall blames bots for buying up tickets before eventgoers can, causing higher prices on resale sites. He said the legislation was inspired by a recent Arizona law passed after bots allegedly sabotaged Taylor Swift tour ticket sales there in 2022.

In addition to Michigan’s state law, Congress outlawed the use of ticket bots in 2016.

But few have faced any penalties under that law.

State records from 2021 and 2022 show no one in Michigan has faced prosecution under the Michigan law either.

McFall and his partner in the legislation, state Representative Graham Filler (R-St. Johns) said both state and federal laws against ticket bots don’t do enough to prevent that from happening.

“You’ve got three prosecutors, or a prosecutor and two assistant prosecutors in a smaller county where a concert is held. And do they really have the time and resources to file criminal charges, or the ability to find out who this company is and what this company did?” Filler said.

Despite bots receiving a lot of attention, ticket resale website operators say there are other issues as well for lawmakers to address.

Sean Burns is with the online marketplace, TicketNetwork.

“We would love to see some more attention paid to things like better transparency for consumers about when and where tickets are put on sale in the first place. Looking at some deeper systemic issues like ticket holdbacks that are used to kind of distort the perceived supply,” Burns said.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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