Ticket tout bots criminalised by UK government
Tue 2 Jan 2018
Touts using bots to buy concert tickets and resell them for profit are facing a crackdown thanks to new legislation.
The new regulation introduced by the UK government will make it a criminal offence to use automated software and bots to purchase tickets.
The law creating the new criminal offence was brought forward thanks to a provision in the Digital Economy Act 2017, suggesting those in Whitehall are feeling a sense of urgency to protect consumers that are being consistently ripped off by resellers using bots.
Ticket resellers, commonly known as touts, use bots and software to get around security blocks that are supposed to stop people from buying large numbers of tickets. For the typical music or sports fan, this means that events sell out before they are able to get them, and that the only tickets available are sold on resale sites at extortionate prices.
Matt Hancock, minister for the creative industries, said: “We’re determined to make sure 2018 is the year we help real fans get the chance to see their favourite music and sports stars at a fair price.
“We’ll be acting to stamp out the growing problem of touts misusing technology to scoop up vast numbers of tickets only to sell them on at rip-off prices.”
As well as imposing criminal penalties for those that do use bots to buy event tickets, the Digital Economy Act puts pressure on ticket sellers. The legislation makes it a requirement for a unique ticket number to be provided, and revised guidance contained in the Consumer Rights Act which states that information on sale restrictions should be provided by resellers.
According to the text of the new regulation, which is titled ‘The Breaching Limits on Ticket Sales Regulation 2017’, it is an offence for ‘a person to do any act which enables or facilitates completion of any part of the process with intent to obtain tickets in excess of the limit.’
Anyone who has recently tried to buy in-demand tickets will recognise the struggle. Tickets for the London production of hit musical Hamilton, which had an original face value of between £20 and £200, are now selling for as much as £5,280. Even at the highest original face value, that amounts to a mark up of more than 2500%.
Singer-songwriter megastar Ed Sheeran hit out last year at profitable ticket resellers by banning them from selling tickets for his tours, and only allowing resale through non-profit site Twickets.