Ban on ticket-buying ‘bots’ used by scalpers clears Assembly panel

Ban on ticket-buying ‘bots’ used by scalpers clears Assembly panel
Legislation approved by a California Assembly committee would bar the use of robotic software to buy tickets to concerts and sporting events in the state. Above, Justin Bieber performing in Berlin last month.
(Gero Breloer / Associated Press)

Jimmy Camp of Orange says he has been frustrated trying to buy concert or sporting-event tickets online just as they go on sale only to see them sell out within minutes before he can buy anything.

He blames ticket-buying software that allows scalpers to sweep up thousands of tickets before regular fans get a shot.


On Tuesday, a state Assembly panel approved legislation that would make it a misdemeanor to use such robotic software to buy tickets. “Fans deserve fair access,” Camp told the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which voted 8-0 to approve AB 329. It still requires approval by the full Assembly and Senate.

Assemblyman Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) introduced the bill, saying it would protect the rights of consumers by stopping so-called bots that are “programmed to jump ahead of the line and create an instant sellout of entertainment and sports events before the typical consumer has a chance.”


Pan said the programs bombard online box offices with thousands of simultaneous purchase requests.

“Scalpers then turn around and sell tickets at very marked up rates,” Pan told the committee.

The measure was supported by California’s five major league baseball teams, NBCUniversal and Consumer Action, a national advocacy group.

“All too often consumers try to buy tickets to favorite concerts only to find the shows are sold out within minutes,” said Audrey Perrott, a spokeswoman for Consumer Action..


Jon Potter, a representative of the group Fan Freedom, which received start-up funding from StubHub, supported the bill but said he is not aware of any prosecutions in the 10 states that already have similar laws. He said the bill should be changed to require reporting of the banned activity by those who become aware that it is taking place.

He also said the bill does not address another problem, which resulted in the vast majority of tickets to a Justin Bieber concert in Fresno last year to be presold to VIPs, fan club members and others, depriving regular customers of equal access to the best seats.


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