The government has announced new measures to stop touts buying tickets in bulk and reselling them at vastly inflated prices.
New rules will make it illegal for touts to use computer software to buy large amounts of tickets for gigs and sporting events.
The government says this move will prevent genuine fans being priced out of attending events.
At present, sophisticated ticket touts use computer programs – known as bots - to purchase vast quantities of tickets immediately after they go on sale. They then appear on ticket resale websites with a huge mark up.
Touts who break the new law will face an unlimited fine, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport says. The rule will become law when the Digital Economy Bill comes into force, which is expected to be later this year.
Similar measures have been introduced in America following a report which found a single tout had managed to buy 1,000 tickets for a U2 concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden in one minute.
The government is also asking that the main brands in the UK secondary ticket market – Get Me In, Seatwave, StubHub and Viagogo - do more to identify ticket touts and differentiate them from regular fans who simply want to sell on tickets for events that they can no longer go to.
It will take further action if it feels these sites are not adhering to the spirit of the rules.
‘Profiteering is simply not fair’
Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock says: "It’s unacceptable that touts are misusing technology to bypass security measures and buy up vast numbers of tickets before real fans get the chance, only to sell them on at rip-off prices. It's a growing problem that affects too many people.
“This profiteering is simply not fair, so we are acting to put fans first and improve the chances of seeing our favourite musicians and sports stars at a reasonable price.
“Ticket sellers also need to do more, by improving transparency and ensuring that they are acting in the best interests of consumers and help the market work for everyone.”
Alex Neill, managing director of Which? home service, says: “Banning bots is a welcome move as it should give genuine fans a better chance of getting tickets for popular events.
“Ticketing sites must have much more robust protections in place to combat bots and the competition authorities now need to make sure that this crackdown really works and take strong action against anyone who breaks the law.”