Cantwell Cheers Passage of Bill to Benefit Washington Music and Sports Fans

Legislation bans the use of ‘ticket bots’ to bypass ticket rules, leading to lower, fairer prices for consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a bill co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) that would prohibit “ticket bots” passed the U.S. House and will now head to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

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.

“People shouldn’t have to beat a robot to enjoy a Seahawks game or a concert at Key Arena. This legislation will crack down on ticket bots and give consumers a fair shake when making ticket purchases,” said Cantwell.

Bots are a significant problem for fans and the live event industry alike, and Washington is no exception. Consumers are often forced to pay an artificially high price or find it impossible to attend at all. 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%.

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