Lin-Manuel Miranda, Chuck Schumer Seek Scalper Crackdown With New Bill
UPDATE 2: President Obama signed the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016 into law on Thursday. The nationwide law makes it illegal to use bots to purchase tickets to events in bulk and/or to resell tickets purchased via ticket bot software. Anyone using bots software as well as those who have knowledge of their use in obtaining tickets can be held liable and prosecuted by state governments or the Federal Trade Commission.
UPDATE: The House of Representatives has passed the Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016, or BOTS Act, that would outlaw bots from buying concert tickets in bulk and reselling them at higher prices.
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and New York senator Chuck Schumer held a press conference Sunday urging Congress to pass legislation that would crack down on ticket scalpers.
If the bill – dubbed the Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016, or the BOTS Act – is approved by federal lawmakers, scalpers that employ automated “bots” to scoop up hundreds of tickets to sell on the secondary market could face massive fines. “The bot software that’s used right now basically makes the price range – even a special event price range – out of the range for most Americans,” Miranda said.
“If the starting price for a ticket to Hamilton is $189, but the bots have been selling them from anywhere from $600 to $2,000 a ticket – just think how much money the people make,” Schumer said.
According to Schumer’s office, scalpers used bots to grab over 20,000 Hamilton tickets during Miranda’s run in the title role; from that surplus of tickets, scalpers walked off with over $15.5 million by selling their bot-bought tickets to roughly 100 Hamilton performances. At one point, scalpers were profiting $250,000 a week off of Hamilton, ripping off both the musical and its fans.
During Miranda’s Hamilton run, the actor often voiced his frustrations regarding ticket scalpers. “I want theatergoers to be able to purchase tickets at face value at our box office and our website, rather than on a resale platform,” Miranda wrote in a New York Times op-ed. “You shouldn’t have to fight robots just to see something you love.”
“It’s plain and simple: We need to sweep the stage of bots so that actual fans can enjoy Hamilton, other hit Broadway shows and major concerts,” Schumer said Sunday. “Hackers and other bad actors are taking advantage of fans and we need to put a stop to it. These bots have gotten completely out of control and their dominance in the market is driving up prices for music and sports fans as well as tourists and theatergoers.”
Scalping isn’t just a Broadway problem: Adele went to great lengths to ensure that scalpers would not poach tickets to her much-anticipated U.S. tour, teaming with a company called Songkick to allocate a percentage of tickets for fans to purchase directly. Still, as 10 million people attempted to purchase Adele tickets on their on-sale date, thousands of those tickets wound up on the secondary market with astronomical resale prices.
“This new legislation, now supported by Lin-Manuel Miranda, will crack down on online hackers and scalpers that use ‘bots’ to purchase thousands of tickets in a matter of milli-seconds, and then sell them at outrageously-inflated prices,” Schumer said of the bi-partisan bill that would bring “fairness” to online ticket buying.