On December 7th, the House of Representatives passed the Better Online Ticket Sales Act, or BOTS Act of 2016. The bill “prohibits the circumvention of a security measure, access control system, or other technological measure on an Internet website or online service of a ticket issuer that is used to enforce posted event ticket purchasing limits.” The bill will now go to the White House for Obama’s signature. Enforcement authority will be granted to the Federal Trade Commission.
In 2013 Ticketmaster estimated that 60 percent of the most desirable tickets are purchased by bots. There is some doubt about the effectiveness of the bill, though. Automated ticket bots are illegal, but scalping itself is not. “There is only one way to stop the scalping industry, and that’s to make it illegal,” said Seth Hurwitz, owner of the 9:30 Club in Washington. “Anything else is just Whac-a-Mole, and grandstanding by politicians.” Websites like StubHub will remain in operation and are unaffected by the new law.
“Laws don’t stop every crime, but the fact that there are new civil penalties for circumventing the technology that tries to keep tickets in the hands of fans will create a disincentive,” said Daryl P. Friedman, chief advocacy and industry relations officer of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Politicians in Europe are also working to reform ticketing laws. Italy is considering proposals and the British government commissioned a massive report on the scalping industry.
The bill passed with bipartisan support in Congress, showing that if there’s one thing politicians in America can agree on it’s that the American people have a right to see Hamilton at a fair price.