New York State Assembly Passes Measure to Criminalize Ticket Bots

By: Jun. 20, 2016
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The New York State Assembly has sent a release stating that Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Marcos Crespo have announced the passage of legislation that would strengthen civil penalties and create a new criminal penalty for the use of ticket purchasing software, often referred to as "bots."

As reported by BroadwayWorld, HAMILTON's Lin-Manuel Miranda helped bring the issue of bots to the forefront with a New York Times op-ed piece urging New York State lawmakers to take steps to eliminate the illegal use of automated software that allows third-party brokers to scoop up the lion's share of tickets to the most popular shows currently running on Broadway.

"This kind of ticket scalping has had a very negative impact on fans that want to enjoy sporting and entertainment events," said Speaker Heastie. "Ticket scalpers often buy up as many tickets as possible with this illegal software and then resell tickets at prices that many New Yorkers simply cannot afford. This measure aims to discourage the tactic by criminalizing this offense."

Currently, the use of ticket bots to bypass security measures on ticket vendors' websites is illegal and can result in civil sanctions. However, it is not considered a criminal violation. Under the proposal, civil penalties would be increased and expanded to include any individuals who knowingly resell or offer to resell tickets that were purchased with ticket bot software. The measure would also classify the use or control of ticket purchasing software and the reselling of such tickets as a class A misdemeanor, which could result in imprisonment and fines (A.10713, Crespo).

"New Yorkers have been dealing with this frustrating ticket buying experience for too long," said Assemblymember Crespo, chair of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force and sponsor of the bill. "Countless have lost opportunities to experience the richness of our arts and entertainment industry because there are those willing to circumvent by using automated software to deprive the average consumer of access to entertainment venues. The top music, theatre and athletic talent of our nation have priced their events at levels affordable to the mass public. With this bill becoming law, we will ensure the prices to see such talent will be within reach of all New Yorkers."

"This legislation represents a great opportunity for both New Yorkers and people visiting New York to be able to enjoy more of what the state has to offer," said Assemblymember Markey, chair of the Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development Committee. "By criminalizing this unfair practice, we can help make sure that New York's concert venues and sports parks can be appreciated by all."

A report conducted by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman regarding ticket bots revealed the magnitude of the issue. The report uncovered several instances in which ticket bots scooped up hundreds of the most desirable seats to popular musical artists' concerts in New York State in a matter of minutes.