Cantwell Backs Bill to Benefit Washington Music and Sports Fans

Legislation would ban use of ‘ticket bots’ to bypass ticket rules, would lead to lower, fairer prices

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined her colleagues on the Senate Commerce Committee to unanimously pass a bill that empowers online ticket consumers by banning the use of ‘ticket bots’ to break security rules on sites like Ticketmaster. These computer programs buy up large batches of tickets for events, then sell them to concert-goers and sports fans at a substantial profit.

Consumers are often forced to pay an artificially high price or find it impossible to attend at all.

Bots are a significant problem for fans and the live event industry alike, and Washington is no exception. When pop artist Adele played Key Arena, some tickets reached the astronomical price of $5,000, thanks in part to the use of bots.  The impact is not limited to huge acts and venues. The Pacific Northwest Ballet and acts playing the 5th Avenue and Paramount Theaters, where scalpers are already a significant problem, can also be targets of ticket bots.

In just a single day, two bots bought up some 15,087 tickets from a 2015 U2 tour for later resale.  According to a study by the New York Attorney General’s office, tickets purchased by bots are resold to consumers at an average markup of 49%.

“A trip to a Seahawks game or Bumbershoot should be a straight-forward process,” said Cantwell. “People shouldn’t have to beat a robot to buy a ticket. This legislation gives consumers a fair shake when making that purchase.”

The bill, named the Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016 (BOTS Act), removes these unfair practices from online ticket sales by prohibiting  ‘ticket bots’ from circumventing security measures on online ticket sale sites.  The BOTS Act authorizes the FTC and state attorneys general to enforce the ban, and allows civil penalties to be brought against ticket brokers who employ bots for this use.

Washington state has already passed legislation similar to the BOTS Act, but bots do not respect state lines and a national standard is needed.