By Andrew Langer
A coalition of Michigan sports fans, consumer groups, and free market advocates are locked in a battle over the right to resell tickets. Michigan is one of the few states that still prohibits consumers from reselling their tickets on the secondary market for more than face value, without the venue’s permission.
In addition to representing a gross interference by the government in the free market, the 83 year old law has enabled big ticket companies like Ticketmaster and StubHub to create a state-sanctioned monopoly on reselling tickets for more than face value.
As “authorized resellers,” these companies are exempt from the law that would criminalize a fan reselling his tickets to his neighbor for more than face value. (Ticketmaster enjoys this “authorized reseller” status for the Lions, Redwings, and Pistons and StubHub for the Tigers.)
In states that allow ticket resale, fans have the ability to choose from a variety of platforms where they can safely buy or sell their unwanted tickets. Because these companies compete for business against one another they are forced to provide the best service and competitive prices as well as a whole slew of consumer protections against fraud. This gives ticket buyers the ability to find the best price they are willing to pay and for ticket sellers to have the market set the value of the ticket they want to sell.
When fans buy and sell tickets on the secondary market they should have the right to come together and do so free of government restriction. The government should not mandate what an individual can do with their own property and has no place picking winners and losers in the marketplace by limiting who can resell tickets for a certain price and who cannot. When someone buys an item, that person should have the right to use it, sell it, or give it away. This applies to a wide range of markets and ticket resale should be no different.
These “authorized resellers,” the venues, and teams they work with, object to any changes to the law because they currently benefit from the inability of others to enter the marketplace and challenge their position. If HB5108 becomes law the free market would eliminate the stranglehold that they currently have on the resale market and force them to compete amidst a wide range of platforms with plenty of competition.
The choice for Michigan lawmakers is simple. Bring HB5108 to a vote, and eliminate this arcane restriction on reselling tickets above face value. Stand up against crony-capitalism and for free-markets and pass HB5108.
Andrew Langer is President of the Institute for Liberty—an organization dedicated to fighting for individual rights, and pushing back against crony capitalism, regardless of whether it’s coming from the left or the right. For more information visit, http://www.instituteforliberty.org/