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Ticket-scalping bots have gotten so bad, the US government has now stepped in

Reuters/Olivia Harris
Fear no more, Beliebers.
  • Amy X. Wang
By Amy X. Wang


This article is more than 2 years old.

Hamilton yearners should probably abandon all hope by now, but tickets for the next mega-hit in the cultural zeitgeist may be a tad bit easier to by.

The US Congress this week passed a bill aimed at significantly cutting down on online ticket scalping, by making it illegal for people to resell tickets they bought with computer bots.

The oh-so-cleverly-named Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act—which now only awaits Barack Obama’s signature—would make it an “unfair and deceptive practice” to use software to rapidly snatch up handfuls of tickets online and then resell them at higher prices. In recent years, reports of concerts and performances selling out with minutes have crescendoed; Hamilton‘s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda even partnered with US lawmakers to draw attention to the problem.

Tickets to Miranda’s musical have been floated around the internet by resellers for more than $1,000, and one scalper was said to have raked in $15.5 million from resales to 100 performances.

A report (pdf) led by New York’s attorney general earlier this year found that tickets resold on sites like StubHub and TicketMaster can be priced at as much as 10 times their face value. The BOTS Act would make it illegal for ticket-buying software to skirt those sites’ security systems; similar legislation is also being considered in Europe.

Still, show-goers shouldn’t expect prices to suddenly get more reasonable: the global resale market for live events is estimated at $8 billion right now, and booming yet.

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