Not long ago, we heard that New York State was preparing legislation which would make it illegal to use bots to purchase large numbers of event tickets online. Well, it’s not just New York anymore: the BOTS Act of 2016 is now en route to the desk of President Obama, after being approved by both houses of Congress. The legislation is aimed at improving access to online ticket sales for the hoi polloi, and tightening the thumbscrews on scalpers who try to corner the market.
The ban applies to any event with a public capacity of 200 or more, and targets attempts via software to defeat venue per-buyer ticket limits. The acronym represents the name of the initiative: the Better Online Tickets Sales Act Of 2016. Circumventing ticket sales limits and reselling tickets obtained by those means would become illegal; anyone who “knew or should have known that the event tickets were acquired in violation” of the federal rule would also be at risk of being collared.
Enforcement would be up to the Federal Trade Commission, as part of its unfair or deceptive practices laws. It also gives state attorneys the power to continue pursuing civil action against scofflaw resellers.
The pending new law comes after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman characterized the current ticketing system as “a fixed game” in a report on abusive ticket reseller practices. That was no doubt prompted by revelations including the fact that a single vendor was able to buy 1,012 tickets for a U2 Madison Square Garden concert one minute after they went on sale, even though there was a venue-imposed limit of four tickets per person.