Senate sends Jerry Brown bill to outlaw ticket-buying ‘bots’

Beyonce performs at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. A bill sent to California Gov. Jerry Brown would make it easier for average customers to get tickets to shows.
(Robin Harper / Invision for Parkwood Entertainment)

The state Senate voted Tuesday to outlaw the use of ticket-buying software to buy large blocks of tickets to concerts and sporting events so they can be scalped at exorbitant prices before the general public can place an order.

The measure, which goes to the governor, is aimed at so-called “bots,” robotic-programs “that jump ahead of the line and create instant sellouts before the average customer has a chance,” Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) told his colleagues. “This bill works to protect consumers.”


Assemblyman Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) sought the legislation, which makes it a misdemeanor subject to up to six months in jail and special civil fines of up to $2,500 to use software to circumvent the security of ticket-selling websites to conduct mass purchases.

“This will help deter people who are using technology to essentially deprive the general public of access to entertainment that they are interested in,” Pan said in an interview after the 36-0 Senate vote. “They are basically using bots to sweep up the tickets in a fraction of a second before people have a chance to go online.”

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

Pan said sports teams and artists have also been frustrated that the bots allow many of the best tickets to wind up in the hands of scalpers.

The measure also had the support of ticket companies including StubHub and Ticketmaster. The latter firm is “delighted” that the measure is headed for the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown, said spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson, adding it is “but one step in combating nefarious scalping practices.”

Ticketmaster is looking for other ways to make sure fans can get full access to tickets and “not have to turn to scalpers that unfairly obtained tickets through their use of bots,” she said.


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