Stourbridge MP launches new law to ban online ticket bots

Stourbridge MP and minister for digital and the creative industries, Margot James, has announced a new law to ban ticket touts from using ‘bots’ to snap up event tickets for resale at hugely inflated prices.

The new offence will mean touts found using automated software to bulk buy tickets with the sole intention of resale on secondary sites like eBay, will face an unlimited fine.

West End musical, Hamilton, which has top price seats starting from £75.00, saw its tickets being advertised on the secondary market for up to £6,000 each. Artists including Adele and Ed Sheeran have also been targeted by professional touts. Ms James said:

"I’m determined to make sure everyone has the chance to see their favourite stars at a fair price. This week we will reach the final stage in our fight to beat rip-off ticket touts using bots to buy huge numbers of tickets only to sell them on at massively over-inflated prices.

"Our work, together with improvements by industry, will give consumers greater protection, make the market more transparent and help Britain’s live events scene continue to thrive."

The new legislation, being brought forward thanks to a provision in the Digital Economy Act, is part of a wider government drive to make sure genuine fans are not losing out through the secondary ticketing market. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy introduced new rules requiring ticket resellers to provide more information around resold event tickets. Resellers now have to supply any unique ticket numbers (UTN) to the buyer to identify a ticket’s seat, standing area or location. Michael Dugher, UK Music chief executive, added:

"I’m delighted the Government has listened to calls from UK Music and industry campaigners like the FanFair Alliance to ban bots - 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 and we also need much stronger action from Google which is still directing fans to sites like Viagogo at the top of an online search, rather than to official ticketing.

"Music fans have been fleeced for far too long and we will continue to work with Government to ensure our fantastic live music industry continues to bring enjoyment to millions of people and to make over a £1 billion annual contribution to the UK economy."

The Competition and Markets Authority is taking enforcement action against secondary ticketing websites suspected of breaking consumer law, Trading Standards has been conducting raids across the UK to pursue those suspected of potential breaches of the Unfair Trading Regulations, and the Advertising Standards Authority is clamping down on misleading prices and charges on secondary ticketing websites.

New guidance was also published last month to help prepare business for these changes and provide clarity to make sure they comply while also securing a better deal for consumers.

Citizens Advice provide information for consumers about buying event tickets and how to make sure a ticketing site is genuine.


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