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Congress cracks down on bots used by ticket scalpers

The US Congress this week passed legislation that would outlaw bots used by scalpers to purchase tickets to concerts, sporting events, and Broadway shows. The Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act was passed in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports, and now awaits President Obama’s signature.

The bill makes it illegal for brokers to use software that bypasses online systems designed to limit the number of tickets an individual can purchase. Scalpers have used bots to purchase as many tickets as possible, leading to inflated prices on secondary markets.

“These bots have gotten completely out of control and their dominance in the market is denying countless fans access to shows, concerts, and sporting events and driving prices through the roof,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in a statement. “With this soon to be new law that will eliminate ‘bots’ and slap hackers with a hefty fine, we can now ensure those who want to attend shows in the future will not have to pay outrageous, unfair prices.”

Schumer and Hamilton creator Lin Manuel teamed up to promote the BOTS Act earlier this year. A report from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found that resale prices on sites like Ticketmaster and StubHub were 49 percent above face value on average, and sometimes ten times the face value. In one case, a scalper purchased more than 1,000 tickets to a U2 concert at Madison Square Garden, according to the report.

Under the legislation, using bots to circumvent security systems on ticketing websites would be considered an “unfair and deceptive practice.” As The New York Times reports, governments in Europe are pursuing similar legislation, as well.


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