New Bot-Blocking Legislation Could Make It Easier To Score Tickets To Popular Events

Image courtesy of Photos in the Sunset

About a week after New York barred scalpers from using bots to scoop up tickets to sporting events, concerts, and other popular attractions, the U.S. Congress has sent its own anti-bot legislation to President Obama to sign.

The Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016, otherwise known as the BOTS Act, was passed by voice vote on Wednesday. Much like its New York counterpart, the legislation would put the kibosh on computer software used by scalpers to grab a lot of tickets at one time.

Using such software would constitute an “unfair and deceptive practice” under the Federal Trade Commission Act, and would allow the FTC the power to pursue those cases.

Sen. Jerry Moran (KS), a co-sponsor of the bill, says the legislation will “level the playing field” for people buying tickets, the Associated Press reports.

“The need to end this growing practice is reflected in the bill’s widespread support,” Moran said.

An investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office earlier this year highlighted just how hard it can be for regular consumers to get tickets to popular events. A report on the investigation pointed to a Dec. 2014 U2 concert at Madison Square Garden. The show, like many others, purported to have a 4-ticket maximum. But within a minute of the tickets going on sale, one broker was able to purchase 1,012 tickets, likely by using automated bot software that does the purchasing for them.

“These bots have gotten completely out of control and their dominance in the market is denying countless fans access to shows and concerts and driving prices through the roof,” Schneiderman said earlier this month. “This legislation will finally crack down on online hackers and scalpers that use ‘bots’ to purchase thousands of tickets in a matter of milli-seconds, and then sell them at outrageously-inflated prices.”