Touts using 'bots' to rip off fans will face unlimited fines

23 April 2018

The government is cracking down on touts using automated software to bulk buy tickets for top events. 

A new law will aim to make it harder for touts to use robots (known as ‘bots’) to buy tickets, which they sell for a premium on secondary ticketing sites. 

Plans to ban touts from using bots’ to dodge security measures and snap up more tickets than allowed by event organisers will this week be laid in Parliament, paving the way for the measures to come into force.

Computer software allows touts to dodge security measures put in place by websites, which often set a maximum on the number of tickets you can buy to a single event. 

Touts who buy up in-demand tickets can then sell them on for thousands of pounds more than their face value.

Now a new law will make it an offence to do this, with touts who shirk the rules facing an unlimited fine.

Margot James, minister for digital and the creative industries, says everyone should have the chance to see concerts or events at a fair price, adding that the new law will give consumer greater protection and make the ticket market more transparent. 

Adam Webb, campaign manager at FanFair Alliance, which campaigns against industrial-scale online ticket touting, says: “This new legislation is important. By reducing the means of dedicated touts to bulk-harvest tickets, the government can help to recalibrate the live music market and give fans a better opportunity to buy tickets at a price the artist sets.”

Michael Dugher, chief executive of UK Music, which campaigns on behalf of musicians, adds: “Music fans have been fleeced for far too long. This new law is an important step to ensure transparency in the resale ticket market. We need the law to be fully enforced to protect music fans from being ripped off.”

The government had already brought in new rules requiring ticket resellers to provide more information about tickets they are selling on to fans. Sellers must supply any unique ticket numbers to the buyer, so they can identify the seating or standing area of the ticket. 

Consumer minister Andrew Griffiths says: “All too often people are left feeling ripped off when the ticket [they have bought from a resale website] doesn’t match expectations.” 

The implementation of the new law comes just days after the launch of the Fair Ticketing Alliance, set up by a group of UK ticket brokers. 

Its chairman, Stephen Lee, says: “The ticketing market is currently failing to address the needs of live entertainment fans in the UK. We believe responsible operators should be free to re-sell tickets without unfair restrictions but should be properly licensed and comply with the highest ethical standards.” 


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