The Federal Trade Commission announced that it has reached settlements with three ticket brokers to resolve allegations that the brokers violated the Better Online Ticket Sales Act by illegally buying thousands of tickets for concerts and sporting events using automated software ( and then resold). The three brokers agreed on more than $ 31 million in civil penalties, most of which are on hold for bankruptcy. The actual civil fines payable by the brokers range from $ 500,000 to over $ 1.5 million.
Announcing the settlement, Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, said, “These ticket brokers used bots and other technical tricks to collect thousands of tickets to popular events as soon as they went on sale. Not only does this deprive loyal fans of the opportunity to see their favorite artists and shows, it is also against the law. (Earlier this week, the FTC announced that Smith, along with many other FTC executives, would be leaving the FTC shortly.)
The BOTS Act, enacted in 2016, made it illegal to « circumvent a security measure, access control system, or other technological control or measure on an Internet website or service used by the ticket issuer to enforce ticket purchases for published events or to ensure the integrity of the rules for online ticket orders. ”The law applies to public concerts, theater performances, sporting events and similar entertainment events in places with more than 200 seats.
Here the FTC claimed that Concert Specials, Cartisim Corp. and Just in Time Tickets would have bought more than 150,000 tickets from Ticketmasters’ websites, despite Ticketmaster imposing restrictions on the number of tickets people could buy. The FTC alleged that the defendants used ticket bots, among other things, to circumvent the limits and security measures set by Ticketmaster. The FTC said the companies then resold those tickets, generating millions in revenue.
Acting FTC Chairman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter made a concluding statement expressing her support for the enforcement move: « The settlements our staff have negotiated with these alleged violations of the BOTS law make it clear that those Cheating fans out of a fair shot will have dire consequences on securing tickets to live events. « She also stated that she hoped this would be the first of many cases that the FTC will bring in the area. (Slaughter was named acting FTC chair yesterday.)
« Those who trick fans out of a fair shot to secure tickets to live events will have dire consequences » – Acting FTC Chairman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter