Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Apr 8 2015

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s proposal to ban “ticket bot” software has unanimously passed the state Senate, 49 to 0.

House Bill 1091, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D — Sequim, passed the House 98 to 0 on Feb. 16. The Senate version, SB 5456, was sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D — Seattle.

The legislation now returns to the House floor for concurrence, due to minor language difference between the bills. It will then be presented to Governor Jay Inslee for his signature.

Ticket bots — short for robots — are computer programs used by scalpers to buy large quantities of tickets online to popular concerts and sporting events. Bots often target the most desirable seats.

Scalpers then sell those same tickets on a re-sale website minutes later at inflated prices, sometimes quadrupling face value and even buying enough seats to control the secondary market.

“Consumers deserve a fair deal,” Ferguson said. “Outlawing ticket bots will keep fans’ hard-earned money in their pockets, instead of fattening the wallets of scalpers trying to game the system.”

The legislation bans ticket bot use and makes it a violation of the state Consumer Protection Act to sell software to circumvent, interfere with or evade any security measure or access-control system on a ticket seller’s website.

“It is unfair that people who work hard all day and save their money to attend a show or concert can’t attend the event because some large ticket reseller has purchased all the tickets to resell them at an outrageous price,” Kohl-Welles said. “I’m pleased to see my colleagues join this effort to ensure a level playing field.”

“Companies shouldn’t be allowed to operate in the shadows, using computer software to artificially inflate the prices of popular concerts and sporting events,” said Van De Wege. “This is a question about fairness. When these questionable business practices interfere with a fair market, it’s time for a change.”

According to Ticketmaster, the nation’s largest authorized ticket reseller, bots are often used to buy more than 60 percent of the most desirable tickets for shows.

Seattle Theatre Group’s Executive Director Josh LaBelle finds 35 to 40 percent of tickets for hot shows are often purchased by bots.

Thirteen states have banned ticket bots: California, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

 

Contact:

Alison Dempsey-Hall, Deputy Communications Director, (206)442-4482, AlisonD@atg.wa.gov