Ban on ticket rip-off
NSW to outlaw ‘bots’
SOFTWARE used by scalpers to snap up the best seats at big concerts and sports events, forcing genuine fans to pay huge mark-ups for tickets, is to be banned.
So-called “bots”, which run simple, repetitive tasks over the internet many times faster than humans, will be outlawed by the state government.
Bots are suspected of plundering $30 Sydney Ashes Test tickets, which have been listed for resale at more than $1500. Consumer group Choice has also uncovered mark-ups of 500 per cent on tickets to see Justin Bieber.
In an attempt to end such rorts, Fair Trading Minister Matt Kean is creating a new provision prohibiting the use of software that circumvents the security features of ticketselling websites.
“I’m sick of seeing ordinary fans being pushed out of the market by ticket bots,” Mr Kean said. “This technology targets primary ticket-selling websites to sweep up thousands of tickets in a matter of minutes. Meanwhile, real fans are being left high and dry.”
Making bot technology illegal for the first time in Australia would allow legitimate agencies such as Ticketek to seek court injunctions against scalpers.
Bots account for as much as 30 per cent of the traffic to primary ticketing sites in the moments after a major event goes on sale.
While some of the activity is from overseas, much of it originates in Australia. It is that activity which could be targeted under a new provision in the state’s Fair Trading Act.
“Bot attacks are a global problem for the ticketing industry that amount to a kind of technology warfare,” Ticketek boss Cameron Hoy said.
It is understood Mr Kean will also seek to put a 10 per cent mark-up cap on resold tickets, although he would not confirm this yesterday.
Queensland already has such a limit. Sellers face fines of as much as $2400, while buyers can be pinged $600.
Bots were banned in the US in 2016 after authorities found they had been used to snap up hundreds of One Direction tickets for $US101, which were then listed for resale for as much as $7244. Ed Sheeran tickets bought for $US64 were advertised for up to $US1404.
Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said the NSW ban would help to force resellers to clean up their act.
“While bots laws and other reforms will go part of the way to stamping out shady ticket scalpers, more work will be needed to fix this dodgy industry,” he said.
Among the changes Choice seeks is for ticket companies to invest in better systems to reduce fraud and sell to real fans, not scalpers.