By Mike McAndrew
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Scalpers used computer bots to buy thousands of tickets for Saturday night’s Luke Bryan concert at the Carrier Dome before the public could and resold them for outrageous prices, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Monday.
Standing outside the Carrier Dome box office on Syracuse University’s campus, the senator said he will introduce legislation to make it illegal for scalpers to use computer bots to grab tickets and resell them for a profit to music fans.
Schumer said scalpers using computer bots bought thousands of Luke Bryan tickets and were reselling them for up to $750, ten times the face value.
Bryan attracted 36,500 fans Saturday night to his sold out Carrier Dome show. Schumer and Carrier Dome manager Pete Sala said they did not know how many of those tickets were purchased by computer bots. But the senator estimated that it was in the thousands based on the number being resold at much higher prices.
“Hackers and other bad actors are taking advantage of fans and we need to put a stop to it. These bots have gotten completely out of control and are now threatening the entire live music industry as well as the ability of fans to purchase tickets at a fair price,” Schumer said. “By eliminating bots and slapping hackers with a hefty fine, we can better ensure those who want to attend shows like Luke Bryan in the future will not have to pay outrageous, unfair prices.”
Schumer said his legislation, if passed, would include fines of up to $1,000 per ticket for violators.
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He said the Luke Bryan concert at the Carrier Dome was just the latest example of the ticket scalping problem. In Buffalo, bots bought up tickets for the October 2015 Paul McCartney concert at the First Niagara Center in just minutes, leaving fans frustrated and facing prices of nearly $8,000 on secondary websites. In Rochester, scalpers used bots to buy up tickets to Bruce Springsteen’s February show at Blue Cross Arena, and resold them for nearly $5,000 on secondary ticket-selling websites.
The Carrier Dome and others have taken steps to ensure that bots have as little opportunity as possible to buy up tickets, including putting buyers in a “waiting room” and requiring human identification throughout the buying process. However, sophisticated hackers continue to adapt and cause problems for the ticketing industry, he said.
There is a bipartisan companion bill pending in the House of Representatives, called the Better On-line Ticket Sales Act of 2014, or the BOTS Act. Schumer said he is pushing colleagues in both houses to swiftly pass this legislation.
Schumer isn’t the first politician to take on this issue.
In January, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a report that said that more than 50 percent of the tickets to Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, Jay-Z and other performers’ shows at New York state venues were reserved for insiders and not available to the public. He called on the music industry to reform its ticketing practices and the New York State Legislature to pass laws to prevent such concert ticket abuses.
Bills have been introduced in the state Legislature, but neither house has passed one, a spokesman for Schneiderman said.