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Ontario to ban ‘scalper bots’ in proposed ticket sale reforms

JESSICA CROSS SMITH, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 27th, 2017

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Beyonce and Jay Z tickets are offered for sale through StubHub in Chicago, Ill., on July 23, 2014. GETTY IMAGES/Scott Olson
Ontario is promising to clamp down on online ticket scalping, a source of frustration and anger for fans who have often been unable to secure tickets to their favourite sport or music events.

The Liberal government said Monday it will introduce new legislation this fall that will make automated ticket-buying “bots” illegal. It would also cap markups on resold tickets at 50 per cent of their face value.

Under the proposed law, ticket resellers would have to disclose more information, including the face value of tickets and any surcharges.

The so-called “scalper bots” – software programs designed to purchase online a large number of tickets for a concert, show, or other event, enabling the person running the software to sell those tickets at a profit – made headlines last year when many Tragically Hip fans were unable to buy tickets to the band’s farewell tour.

“By the time any real fan is able to log on and search for tickets the best seats are gone,” said Yasir Naqvi, Ontario’s attorney general, as he made the announcement.

“Many events sell out completely in minutes, even seconds, and many of these tickets end up on resale sites for huge mark ups, of course.”

Naqvi said the government would also make it illegal to sell tickets purchased with bots and to “facilitate” the resale of those tickets.

He has acknowledged; however, that enforcing a ban on scalper bots, which are not unique to Ontario, would be difficult.

Naqvi said major ticket sellers, including Ticketmaster, have told the government that they already employ technology to combat bots, which has been “fairly successful,” but they lack sufficient resources.

As a result, the government plans to give the industry and fans the right to sue those who use bots or facilitate the reselling of those tickets. Once it passed, the law would apply to tickets for events that take place in Ontario, regardless of where the ticket seller and buyer are based, Naqvi said.

The changes are based on public feedback gathered through a survey conducted earlier this year, he said.

“Between bots, lack of transparency and unfair prices on resale sites, there is a pervasive sentiment that the system is rigged.”


Related stories:

Ontario to announce ticket sale reforms; public wants ‘scalper bots’ banned

Ticketmaster Canada vows to fight bots so fans can snag hot tickets

Ontario wants public feedback on online ticket sales, ‘scalper bots’

Computer ‘scalper bots’ to be outlawed in Ontario

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