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Congress Passes Bill Targeting Ticket Scalpers

Both chambers of Congress have passed legislation that would outlaw attempts to use software to buy more online tickets than a venue allows per person. The bill is designed to help blunt the lucrative ticket scalping market.

On Dec. 7, Congress passed the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016. The bill would impose criminal penalties on vendors who use software that can circumvent a venue's cap on how many online tickets a single buyer can purchase for a public event open to at least 200 people, NPR reports.

The law would also apply to individuals who knowingly sell tickets that were purchased using such methods. If signed by President Barack Obama, the law would be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general.

The BOTS Act was sponsored by Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. Moran has noted that the bill has received unusual bipartisan support because everyone can understand the unfairness of ticket scalpers monopolizing the market.

"The need to end this growing practice is reflected in the bill's widespread support," Moran told the Associated Press.

On June 7, Lin-Manuel Miranda urged lawmakers to address the epidemic of online "bots" shoring up as many available tickets as possible so that vendors could later sell them with a higher price tag.

The creator of the Broadway smash "Hamilton," Miranda accused these bots of denying many of his fans from having the chance to see his show.

"The problem will persist until we strengthen the existing law and make this recurrent illegal behavior a felony," Miranda wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times.

The Broadway playwright added "You shouldn't have to fight robots just to see something you love."

In early 2016, Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of New York published a report finding that bot software had become a scourge on the ticket market, with one single vendor being able to circumvent a Madison Square Garden cap of four tickets per person to a U2 concert and purchasing 1,012 tickets in under a minute of them going on sale.

The report also found that tickets that had been gathered by these bots would later be sold on websites with markups ranging from 49 percent to 10 times more than the original price.

Sources: AP via Billboard, The New York TimesNPR / Photo Credit: Urbndork/Flickr

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