It’s happened to all of us: We pose our fingers over our mouses, cursors hovering over the buy button waiting for tickets to see our favorite band go on sale. But before you’ve even had a chance to buy a single one, scalpers have snuck in with their ticketing bots and snatch up huge swathes of ticket which will end up on second market sites for double, triple, quadruple face value. Well, if this happens to you in New York, at least you can rest better with the knowledge that these scalpers now face serious jail time thanks to a new law.
On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that classifies use of ticket bots as a class A misdemeanor. As of February 2017, scalpers caught using bots will face major fines and the possibility of jail time. That’s right: Being a jerk who rips off true fans for profit can now put you in jail. Amen.
“These unscrupulous speculators and their underhanded tactics have manipulated the marketplace and often leave New Yorkers and visitors alike with little choice but to buy tickets on the secondary market at an exorbitant mark-up,” said Cuomo.
Ticket bots are pieces of computer software that can essentially game ticketing websites and allow scalpers to purchase thousands of tickets in seconds. According to a report issued by the New York attorney general in January, over 140,000 tickets to New York shows were scooped up by just three brokers between 2012 and 2014.
Passed by the state legislature in June, the new law strengthens the legal ramifications for using bots, which was always illegal but required civil prosecution. About a dozen states have banned the computer programs in one form of another, and legislation to make them illegal on a federal level has been introduced to the US Congress.
Below, revisit our documentary Sold Out!: Inside America’s Ticketing Landscape: