Maryland Outlaws Ticket Scalping Software

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General Assembly Approval Makes Maryland 12th State to Ban Use of "Bots" to Sell Out Popular Events Before Consumers Can Buy Tickets

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Maryland General Assembly Wednesday morning gave final approval to a measure thatwill ban the use of ticket-buying software scalpers use to purchase hundreds of tickets to popular concerts and sporting events within seconds of them going on sale online. 

Scalpers use software “bots” to circumvent security measures online ticket sites (like Ticketmaster) deploy to limit sales to humans and bombard these sites, purchasing large quantities of choice tickets at light speed, oftencontributing to sell outs and shutting out human buyers bycrashing ticket sites.  

“This is good step forward in making the ticket-buying process fairer for Maryland consumers,” saidDelegate Sam Arora (D-Rockville), the bill’s sponsor.  “Next year, when the Redskins make the playoffs, we all deserve a fair chance to buy tickets.”;

Bots allow scalpers effectively to cut in line in front of human users and doing so to a significant extent.  Ticketmaster estimates that as many as60% of desirable tickets for popular shows are purchased by bots and that bots can account for 80% of all ticket requests on their website on some days.

“By banning the use of ticket-buying software being used to circumvent security measures, Marylanders will benefit,” saidSenator Brian Feldman (D-Potomac), the lead sponsor of the legislation introduced in the state Senate.  “Consumers will have a fair shot to purchase concert and sporting event tickets at reasonable prices.”;

Bots can be purchased inexpensively “off the shelf” or tailor-made by programmers.  An off-the-shelf bot that exploits Ticketmasteris only $990.  A scalper will set up a bot to act like multiple website users (sometimes more than 100) to simultaneously hunt down tickets within a certain price point or to wait in “spinning” mode, bombarding the site with queries until additional tickets become available, when it immediately purchases them.

The bill, HB 98, now heads to the desk of Governor Martin O’Malley for his signature into law.  Once enacted, Maryland will becomethe twelfth state to ban the use of ticket-scalping bots.

 

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