New York Bars Scalpers From Using Bots To Snap Up Tickets Before Everyone Else

Image courtesy of Joe M. O'Connell

Perhaps you’ve been here before: you’re waiting patiently, albeit a bit anxiously, for the moment when you can buy tickets to a concert or sporting event online. But despite your best efforts and quick action, you find that someone has swooped in and snapped up all the tickets, leaving you to the mercies of online resellers that may jack up the cost of tickets.

That scenario could become less frequent now that New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that makes using so-called “ticket bots” — software designed to manipulate systems that are designed to limit the numbers of tickets sold to an individual — illegal.

Previously, NY law barred the use of ticket bots, but only imposed civil sanctions for brokers who violate that law. Now, using ticket bots, maintaining an interest in or control of bots, and reselling tickets knowingly obtained with bots constitutes a class A misdemeanor. As such, violators could face substantial fines and imprisonment.

The new legislation also expands the definition of ticket bots to include any of the many systems out there used to quickly amass tickets before the general public can get their hands on them, whether that tool functions on its own or with human assistance.

“These unscrupulous speculators and their underhanded tactics have manipulated the marketplace and often leave New Yorkers and visitors alike with little choice but to buy tickets on the secondary market at an exorbitant mark-up,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement, thanking Attorney General Schneiderman and the sponsors of the bill for pushing the issue.

“It’s predatory, it’s wrong and, with this legislation, we are taking an important step towards restoring fairness and equity back to this multi-billion dollar industry.”