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US ticket brokers face $3.7 million in fines over BOTS Act violations

By | Published on Monday 25 January 2021

Ticket touts

Three US ticket brokers, all based in Long Island, last week agreed to pay fines totalling $3.7 million over alleged violations of America’s Better Online Ticket Sales Act, which set out to stop touts from using bots to buy up tickets from primary ticketing sites.

The BOTS Act was passed right at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency in December 2016. Whereas the regulation of ticket sales, and any restrictions on touting, usually happen at a state level in the US, this was federal law that applied to the whole country.

It basically outlawed the use of special software to hoover up tickets from primary ticketing platforms, which has been a common tactic employed by touts that then makes it much harder for genuine buyers to secure tickets to in-demand shows as they go on sale.

This is the first time the US Department Of Justice and Federal Trade Commission had sought to enforce the BOTS Act. The three targeted ticketing companies were Just in Time Tickets, Concert Specials and Cartisim Corp.

The FTC said in a statement: “The three ticket brokers will be subject to a judgment of more than $31 million in civil penalties for violating the BOTS Act, under a proposed settlement reached with the FTC. Due to their inability to pay, the judgment will be partially suspended, requiring them to pay $3.7 million”.

The three companies were accused of using special software to buy more than 150,000 tickets from the Ticketmaster website. They then allegedly made millions in revenues by selling on the tickets.

Commenting on his agency’s action, the FTC’s Andrew M Smith said: “These ticket brokers used bots and other technical tricks to scoop up thousands of tickets to popular events as soon as they went on sale. Not only does this deprive loyal fans of the chance to see their favourite performers and shows, it is against the law”.