Legislation to stop electronic ticket scalpers is welcome

By:  Editorial Board
Source: The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

Secondary ticket brokers such as StubHub and Vivid Seats provide a service for those wanting to resell tickets they can’t use and those who are looking to buy seats for events. 

They charge a fee for the service and the customers swap cash for tickets on the internet. The prices of tickets are often higher than face value, but the arrangement generally benefits both parties. 

But this electronic marketplace has been compromised by scalpers who use computer programs — know as bots — to snap up a large number of tickets as soon as they come available, then resell them on the websites of secondary ticket brokers at a huge markup. 

This takes money from artists and athletic programs and puts the prices for live performances and big games well beyond the financial reach of most people. That’s not right. 

Soon, it might be illegal. And it should be. 

A proposal making its way through Congress seeks to stop the use of software to gobble up tickets. For example, it would make it illegal for StubHub, which is a legal marketplace, to allow sales by brokers who used bots to buy tickets.

Last week U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., helped push the plan through the Senate Commerce Committee. It was approved unanimously.

Similar legislation was approved by the House.

Bryan Watt, a spokesman for Cantwell, said the senator hopes the differences between the two proposals will be “ironed out quickly” and sent to the president’s desk this year. 

The Seattle Times reports bots have been a problem for arts organizations in the Pacific Northwest.

Gary Tucker, of Pacific Northwest Ballet, says its “Nutcracker” is a regular target. 

“It sucks when we find out someone paid $500 for a ticket that should normally be $100,” he said. 

Washington state has already approved its own anti-bot legislation. 

However, given that computers can’t easily be contained along state lines, this is a matter that needs federal attention. 

In the end, consumers and performing artists should benefit greatly. Tickets can again be set by artists and promoters. Concertgoers and sports fans will be more likely to pay a fair price for tickets.  

The legislation is needed.