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Use of ticket 'bots' may become a crime in New York

The state Assembly has passed a bill to fight off digital scalpers that scoop up tickets before people have a chance to buy them.

The days of scalping tickets off the street have been long replaced by digital "bots" that buy the best seats and resell them at a high markup.

The bots bypass security on ticket sellers' websites, automatically purchasing spots from a popular show before regular human buyers even have a chance to pick out a seat.


Using ticketing software that tries to bypass security functions like this checkpoint on Ticketmaster is being targeted by New York lawmakers.

Screenshot of Ticketmaster / CNET

New York state is fighting this software. Its state Assembly passed a bill Friday that would mean an increased civil penalty for anyone who knowingly attempts to resell tickets purchased using this unlawful method. Making use of the software would also become a class A misdemeanor, which could result in imprisonment and fines. These penalties would come into effect if New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs the bill into law, reports Gothamist.

"Ticket scalpers often buy up as many tickets as possible with this illegal software and then resell tickets at prices that many New Yorkers simply cannot afford," Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement.

The bill comes in the wake of a January report from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that detailed an investigation confirming that thousands of tickets are purchased with this software. It said one broker used a bot to buy 1,012 tickets to U2's Madison Square Garden show in June 2015.

Assembly Speaker Heastie's office did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.