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Earlier This Year, Schumer Teamed Up With Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda to Put Spotlight On ‘BOTS Act’; Hackers Have Used Bots To Unfairly Jack Up Prices Of Tickets To ‘Hamilton’ in NYC, the Paul McCartney show in Buffalo and Bruce Springsteen in Rochester, as well as Other Major Events Around New York State, Earning Resellers an Eye-Popping Profits

Senator Says What’s Happening On Broadway is Happening Across Entertainment Industry & Must Stop

Schumer: It’s ‘Abots’ Time We Finally Crack Down On Cyber Scalpers 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that both chambers of Congress passed the Better On-line Ticket Sales Act of 2016, or the BOTS Act, federal legislation that would crackdown on cyber scalpers using bots to scoop up thousands of popular Broadway, theater, sporting and concert tickets to resell on other websites at outrageous prices. Earlier this year, Schumer teamed up with award-winning composer, lyricist, performer and Hamilton creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, to highlight the need for this legislation. Schumer said that, last year, cyber scalpers used online computer programs, known as “bots,” to purchase tickets to a much-anticipated Paul McCartney show in Buffalo, New York and the Bruce Springsteen concert this year in Rochester. Tickets were then resold at outrageous prices anywhere between $500 to upwards of $8,000/ticket. Schumer’s legislation would help fix the broken system of ticket purchasing. Now that the legislation has been passed by the Senate and the House, it heads to the President’s desk for signature.  

“These bots have gotten completely out of control and their dominance in the market is denying countless fans access to shows, concerts, and sporting events and driving prices through the roof,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “With this soon to be new law that will eliminate ‘bots’ and slap hackers with a hefty fine, we can now ensure those who want to attend shows in the future will not have to pay outrageous, unfair prices.”

According to the New York Times, between 2012 and 2014, just three scalpers bought more than 140,000 tickets to New York shows using bots. Scalpers using bots have purchased more than 20,000 tickets to Hamilton. Schumer said cyber scalpers are making millions of dollars each year using bots to rip off fans, while also keeping millions of dollars in ticket revenue away from artists and performers and all those work on these live productions. A similar scenario played out in August of 2015 in Western New York, when Paul McCartney fans looking to purchase tickets for his show in Buffalo were unable to do so because all of the tickets were sold out within minutes. In a Buffalo News report from August 31, 2015, it was confirmed the culprit was, once again, the use of bots to purchase all of the tickets and then sell them on secondary websites. Fans are reported tickets being sold on secondary websites at prices up to $8,000. Likewise, in February, many fans looking to purchase tickets for Bruce Springsteen’s February 27 show at the Rochester Blue Cross Arena were unable to do so because many of the tickets were sold out within 40 minutes. In a Rochester Democrat and Chronicle report, it was suggested the culprit was likely, once again, the use of bots to purchase all of the tickets and then sell them on secondary websites where fans were seeing tickets being sold at prices up to $5,000.

Schumer explained that “bots” are sophisticated computer programs often used by nefarious scalpers and brokers that plague the online sale of concert tickets. According to a 2013 New York Times report, while bots were once merely a nuisance to the live music industry, they have now become arguably its most reviled foe, as they are able to snatch up popular tickets within a matter of seconds, leaving fans with no choice but to buy tickets through derivative sites at much higher prices. Schumer said this practice leaves frustrated fans ticket-less and drives a resultant secondary ticket sale market, where tickets are sold at astronomical prices that most fans cannot afford. 

In New York alone, hundreds of thousands of tickets are purchased any given day by scalpers using bots. For instance, at a U2 concert at Madison Square Garden, one scalper used a bot to buy more than one thousands tickets in the first minute after tickets went on sale, even though there was a four-ticket per fan limit. According to Ticketmaster, an estimated 60 percent of the most desirable tickets available for sale are purchased by bots. 

Schumer said there is no fair way for a consumer to purchase a ticket online if they have to compete with bots that are capable of navigating through online ticket websites and purchasing tickets in the matter of seconds, jamming up the online ticketing system, and thereby leaving an unfair playing field for fans looking to purchase seats to an event or concert at the face value price.  

Schumer’s legislation would prohibit the unfair and deceptive act of using mechanisms such as bots in order to scoop up tickets before consumers are given a fair chance to buy them. Schumer said this legislation would help ensure consumers are given equitable access to tickets for events in the future and are not precluded from purchasing tickets at a fair price.

Artists, musicians, theater owners and concert promoters alike have led the charge against the bots used by online hackers and scalpers in an attempt to improve the ticket-buying experience for customers and guarantee increased transparency for fans. Schumer explained that many ticket reselling companies are hurt by bots, as frustrated consumers are often directed to their websites to purchase tickets from the online scalpers at overly inflated prices. In fact, in a 2012 post by Ticketmaster, the company stated that bots “hammer our system and website, they substantially increase our technology costs, they anger our customers and they keep us from building a direct relationship with fans.” Schumer said his legislation would help crack down on this practice, which hurts both concertgoers and ticket companies.