Touts using automated software known as ‘bots’ to harvest tickets in bulk now face unlimited fines as new legislation comes into force in the UK today. The law is aimed at preventing ticket tout bots from being used to drive up the resell price of tickets for concerts.

The move has been widely welcomed by those in the music industry.

Digital and creative industries Minister Margot James said: “Fans deserve the chance to see their favourite artists at a fair price.

“Too often they have been priced out of the market due to unscrupulous touts buying up huge batches of tickets and selling them on at ridiculous prices.

“From today I am pleased to say that we have successfully banned the bots. We are giving the power back to consumers to help to make 2018 a great year for Britain’s booming events scene.”

The rise of ticket tout bots

Using ticket tout bots has become far more lucrative for touts than the traditional method of waiting outside venues with physical tickets.

The rise of online ticket sales sites such as Ticketmaster has allowed touts to use bots to buy thousands of tickets to a concert in one minute.

Touts then sell the tickets on secondary ticket sales websites such as Viagogo and GetMeIn with an average markup of 49%.

In October last year ticket tout bots purchased up to 30,000 tickets to the musical “Hamilton”. Artists such as Adele, U2 and the Arctic Monkeys have also been targeted.

The legislation comes as part of a wider crackdown on UK ticket touts. In March the ASA ordered that re-sellers must make the total ticket price, the VAT-inclusive booking fee and the delivery fee clear from the start.

Some individual venues and primary ticket sellers have made attendees present ID and their original payment card on the door of the venue to gain access.

However, security and ticketing expert Reg Walker told that Guardian that some touts would be able to sidestep the anti-bot legislation or use alternative means.

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“Bots are just one tool in the touts’ box,” he said. “There are changes in technology that mean there may be loopholes in the legislation that they can exploit.”

Ticket tout bots were reportedly created by former insurance salesman Ken Lowson. His company, Wiseguy, bought and resold 2.5 million tickets and made more than $25m in profit between 2001 and 2010, according to the FBI indictment.

A law to ban bots is already in place in the US after a bill passed through both houses of Congress unanimously in late 2016.

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