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New bill proposed to crack down on scalpers who use ticket bots

Everyone who has tried to get tickets to a popular event, such as a Seahawks game or Macklemore show, has felt the frustration of quickly striking out when tickets are gone within minutes.

Part of the problem is scalpers who use “bots” to snag tickets and turn them around on the secondary market for way more than face value.

Josh LaBelle, Executive Director of the Seattle Theatre Group, which runs the Paramount, Moore and Neptune venues, said many of their shows have been hit by bots.

A new bill could make that illegal.

“There are businesses and people that will deploy bots — these computer programs — that will get into the ticket system and essentially purchase the tickets or put them on hold before the consumer can get to them,” said LaBelle.

Bots can shut out thousands of consumers.

“Thirty-five to 40 percent of our inventory for certain hot shows can get infected by bots,” said LaBelle.

Those using bots then sell those tickets in the secondary market for, in some instances, triple face value or more.

Consumers complained, but the use of bots is legal in Washington.

“It’s maddening for everyone, so I decided to do something about that,” said state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Ferguson is introducing a bill that would close the show on those computer programs.  It will allow his office to investigate and sue anyone using bots under the Consumer Protection Act.

“It will give us a very valuable tool to go after these bad actors,” said Ferguson.

California, Oregon and New Jersey have recently passed laws banning bots.

“This will mean equity for consumers. This will mean that consumers for any show will have an easier time finding tickets right at the on-sale time for the desired price,” said LaBelle.

The legislation already has support from secondary ticket seller StubHub and its parent company eBay.

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