Congress Cracks Down on Ticket-Buying Bots

New law will 'level the playing field' for ticket buyers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 8, 2016 12:07 AM CST
Congress Cracks Down on Ticket-Buying Bots
Ticketmaster tickets and gift cards are shown at a box office in San Jose, Calif.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Congress has sent legislation to President Obama that could make it easier to get tickets to popular shows, sports events, and concerts. Legislation passed by voice vote in the House on Wednesday would crack down on computer software used by some ticket brokers to snap up tickets. The so-called "bots" rapidly purchase as many tickets as possible for resale at significant markups and are one of the reasons why tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert or Hamilton performance can sell out in just a few minutes, the AP reports. The bill would make using the software an "unfair and deceptive practice" under the Federal Trade Commission Act and allow the FTC to pursue those cases. The Senate passed the bill last month.

Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller testified at a Senate hearing in September. He said the bots invade the Ticketmaster system the moment tickets go on sale and electronically purchase almost all the available inventory—one of the reasons Hamilton tickets have sold for $1,000 or more. Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, the GOP sponsor of the bill, said the legislation will "level the playing field" for people buying tickets. "The need to end this growing practice is reflected in the bill's widespread support," Moran said. In a report earlier this year, investigators cited a single broker who bought 1,012 tickets within one minute to a U2 concert in New York when they went on sale in December 2014, despite the vendor's claim of a four-ticket limit. By day's end, that broker and one other had 15,000 tickets to U2's North American shows. (More tickets stories.)

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