The European Parliament have voted in favour of new legislation that will put an end to the use of bots in ticket purchasing. MEPs voted, on Friday, in favour of legislation to outlaw the use of special software to circumvent ticket purchasing.
This action signals the first time the EU has directly addressed the issue of ticket touting and is set to strengthen existing regulation through the inclusion of maximum buying limits, regulation obliging resellers to declare if they are a professional seller and the provision of a minimum standard by which all members must abide.
The promising move comes as the fight against the use of bots in ticket purchasing and ticket scalpers, who work outside events, showing up with unsold tickets from brokers’ offices on a consignment basis or showing up without tickets and buying extra tickets from fans at or below face value on the basis of reselling them at a profit. The move is the EU’s first ever action against the bot and scalping epidemic – a widespread issue that many big names have had to speak out on.
Ticket touting has been a colossal issue in the UK, with artists like Adele, Ed Sheeran, U2, and Radiohead selling out concerts in minutes, with them reappearing online for extortionate prices, forcing the artists to speak out.
MEP, member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group and rapporteur of the revised Unfair Commercial Practices Directive – in which the new legislation is captured, Daniel Dalton MEP, said: “Everyone apart from touts lose out from bot bulk buying of tickets, real fans either are unable to see their favourite team or artist or forced to pay many times the face value price, whilst event organisers are seeing their purchasing limits flagrantly violated. So this first ever ban at a European level is an important first step, with the possibility to go further in future depending on how the ban works in practice.”
Once the legislation has been officially adopted by the European Council, which is likely to be in June , this year, Member States will be given a period of two years to transpose the amendments into national law. The Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) – on behalf of promoters, managers, trade bodies, grassroots consumer action groups and anti-ticket touting organisations – raised awareness of this issue on EU level by proposing test and coordinating lobbying for this legislation’s inclusion.
Speaking about the meaningful vote, Sam Shemtob and Katie O’Leary of FEAT, said: “We welcome the move to curb the use of bots in this first Europe-wide anti-touting law. As well as requiring professional sellers to identify themselves, it also enables member states to go further and potentially regulate the resale price of tickets.
“Most importantly, this represents the first step in harmonising regulation across Europe. This approach is critical as we know secondary ticketing companies like to exploit regulatory gaps. There is still much to be done and we will be campaigning for tougher legislation in the next parliamentary term.”
Bots enable scalpers to make multiple ticket purchases, pushing real consumers to the back of the queue. These tickets are then resold at ridiculously inflated prices on secondary ticketing platforms. A 2019 study of bot activity estimated that 42.2% of activity on primary ticketing platforms is attributable to bots compared to 56.9% human activity. The issue is only likely to worsen as technology improves: the number of sophisticated bots detected was 12.3% higher in 2019 than 2018.
This is the first time that the world’s largest trading bloc has set a common standard for ticket resale in cultural and sports events. Dealing with scalping, as secondary ticketing companies often exploit the gaps between different countries’ legislation, a harmonised approach will be critical. The new legislation has been welcomed by MP’s who have hailed it as a positive step that, “harmonises Europe with existing UK law”.
Speaking about the new legislation, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse, Sharon Hodgson, said: “It is welcome that the EU Parliament have today voted to ban bots, which harvest tickets from the primary market in order to sell for high profits on the secondary market. This new regulation harmonises Europe with existing UK law on bots, and also allows member states to strengthen existing legislation, which will protect consumers. Fans across the world must not be priced out by the secondary ticket market using parasitical methods to get tickets.”