Music News

Small Ticket “Bots” Pay $2.7 M to New York for Illegal Practices

In a move that could largely be seen as a token settlement, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman this week announced a handful of ticket reselling websites will pay the state nearly $3 million for the use of illegal programs to buy concert tickets in bulk.

The state will receive $1.125 million from Flying Falco Entertainment, in addition to sums ranging from $100,000 to $650,000 from five other brokers, according to reports from multiple news organizations, including and the attorney general’s office. None of the ticket sellers fined include bigger operations like StubHub, however.

“New Yorkers deserve a fairer ticket marketplace,” Schneiderman said in a statement released Wednesday. “For too long, unscrupulous ticket brokers have used illegal bots to scoop up tickets for popular events, denying ordinary fans the chance to buy tickets at face value. By strengthening New York’s anti-ticket bot law, this bill will give fans a fairer shot at purchasing tickets to see their favorite performers.”

In January, Schneiderman released a report shining a harsh light on ticket-purchasing bots that have angered fans and artists alike. He’s called on agencies like Ticketmaster, StubHub and other online sellers to comply with state and federal laws, such as one in New York that limits the number of tickets that can be purchased in a single transaction. When these bots get ahold of tickets, instead of regular fans, patrons who missed out on purchasing tickets at face value oftentimes have to pay ridiculous fees to see their favorite bands in person. In the report, Schneiderman’s office pointed to the visit last fall by Pope Francis, in which tickets that had been given away for free were being resold for “hundreds or even thousands of dollars.” When it comes to concerts, some brokers are selling tickets at margins more than 1,000% of face value.

Now Schneiderman is proposing new legislation to further clamp down on bots, which are illegal under New York’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Law for providing “unscrupulous ticket brokers with an unfair advantage over fans,” according to a statement from Schneiderman’s office. The use of bots remains widespread, and the proposed law “would enhance the existing law by: expanding its scope to include additional types of ticket bots, prohibiting professional ticket resellers from selling or offering to sell tickets that they know have been illegally acquired using ticket bots, increasing the civil penalties for violations of the law, and making the use of ticket bots a criminal offense.”

The other bots paying fines include:

  • TicketToad, $650,000;
  • All Events Utah, $325,000;
  • Just In Time, $300,000;
  • A2Z Tix, $260,000; and
  • Charm City, $100,000.

TicketToad, for example, illegally purchased at least 520 tickets to a Beyonce concert at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn within three minutes of the tickets going on sale, while Avery Tickets purchased at least 522 tickets to a June 28, 2013 concert from One Direction at Jones Beach within five minutes of the tickets going on sale.

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

Amber Healy has 521 posts and counting. See all posts by Amber Healy

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