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Michigan House Committee Moves Bill To Legalize Ticket Scalping

LANSING (WWJ/AP) - A state House committee has approved a bill that would legalize ticket scalping in Michigan.

The House Criminal Justice Committee voted 5-3 along party lines Tuesday to approve the bill. It would remove the ban and penalties on reselling tickets at a price higher than face value.

Democrats on the committee failed to win an amendment aimed at preventing people from using computer programs, or bots, to buy up large numbers of tickets to resell online at a higher price.

The bill made it through the House last session, but it died in the Senate

Proponents say the ban on ticket scalping is outdated and more than 30 other states don't have such a ban in place.

Linda Teeter of Michigan Citizen Action, who's backing the bill, says when a fans buy tickets, they should own them, and be able to sell them — even at a big profit — without being treated like criminals.

"If you choose to do that and say, 'Oh my gosh, that team is in the semi-finals, and here I have this ticket and I paid $20 for it, but now the real value is such and such.'"

However, reports WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick, many venue and event owners/operators disagree, saying such a policy will drive away some fans, and also drive away entertainers.

"They're not too happy with this," Skubick said. "But, basically the Republicans said, look it, you buy the ticket; if you can get a hundred bucks over cost, why not let it happen."

But if ticket scalping becomes legal, are there concerns that individual fans will get shut out of games by companies that buy tickets in bulk?

"Well, theoretically anything could happen in the marketplace," Skubick said. "The Republicans believe the free market outta be in play here. There were no limitations placed on this legislation to address that, so it could be the wild, wild west. In other words, buy some tickets and make some money, perhaps."

General Manager of the Dow Events Center in Saginaw, Matt Blazey, said one can usually tell who will benefit from legislation by who supports it.

"You've heard from front groups support by resale sites and organizations whose profitability is directly tied to how much they can inflate the price of ticket resold to fans," Blazey said. "If this legislation is good for them, it can't be good for Michigan consumers."

The measure now goes to the House floor, where Skubick said it's expected to pass.

To become law, the bill would still need approval from the full Senate and Gov. Rick Snyder.

TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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