Un-Scalped Tickets in Michigan
September 6, 2013 2:09 PM   Subscribe

I have season tickets for a university sports team and would like to sell tickets to some of the games. How can I do this profitably but legally in the state of Michigan and avoid selling to a police officer?

Michigan law prohibits tickets scalping.

But can I legally put a post on Craigslist offering my tickets at face value with a "convenience fee" or delivery charge equal to the going rate for black-market tickets? (My rationale here is that the price of the tickets is restricted by law, but the price of my "labor" as a seller is purely market-determined. Right?)

Also, is it true that asking a buyer to state "I am not a law enforcement officer" provides protection against entrapment-like scenarios, or is that just a legal urban legend?

For what it's worth: the university athletics office that issued the tickets does not prohibit ticket resales, though they obviously frown on scalping.

Thanks so much!
posted by drosophelia to Law & Government (6 answers total)
But can I legally

For this you'll really have to ask a lawyer.

Also, is it true that asking a buyer to state "I am not a law enforcement officer" provides protection against entrapment-like scenarios, or is that just a legal urban legend?

If this actually worked, you would think that organized crime would have a pretty foolproof way of figuring out who was working for the police.

Generally speaking, if you are reselling for more than the face value of the tickets, you are scalping. Calling it a convenience fee or whatever only works if you're Ticketmaster.
posted by dubold at 2:16 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you're really interested in being 100% sure you're doing this above board, you'll want to talk to a lawyer.

The spirit of the law here is that you're not supposed to be able to profit off of those tickets. There are probably a million little tricks and ways that people try to get around the letter of the law, but they're all going to be in violation of the spirit of it.

As a result of that, really anything you try to do runs you some risk.

The least risky way is to sell to people you know or friends of friends.

If I were going to try to sell to the general public, I'd want to be 100% sure that I'm selling the ticket for face value and providing some other good or service for the rest (like $30 for the ticket, $100 for delivering the ticket to them).

Only a lawyer is going to be able to tell you if that sort of scheme would work (my guess: probably not). Whether or not it works probably depends on how reasonable it is that your extra service is worth what you're allegedly charging for it. $30 to drive across town with a ticket? Sure, maybe. What's the going rate for courier service in your town? $100 to send something by first class mail? Probably not as convincing that you're not essentially scalping.
posted by toomuchpete at 2:39 PM on September 6, 2013

You might get away with it, but there is a prior case in Massachusetts where judges found that charging additional fees on top of the ticket price was still scalping.
posted by jacalata at 2:45 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm a Season Ticket Holder of a sports team, and I occasionally sell tickets.

I only charge Face Value, and nothing else. I have seen others sell for 'face value + a beer', but generally, that's as high as it goes. However, I only accept payment via PayPal, and I email the ticket to the buyer, so my labor outlay is nil.

Can you do the PayPal/email tickets route?
posted by spinifex23 at 3:09 PM on September 6, 2013

Do tickets trade on Stubhub? Have a friend in a markup friendly state list them on stubhub. Keep whatever profit you don't give to friend.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:37 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

StubHub is the Official Fan-to-Fan Ticket Marketplace for the University of Michigan.

Selling above face value may technically be illegal, but the practice is widespread on Stubhub and UM continues to endorse the site.
posted by JumpW at 6:01 AM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

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