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Congress Cracks Down On 'Bots' That Snap Up Concert Tickets

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Name a popular concert, performance, or play -- and you know how quickly the tickets disappear online -- often because unscrupulous ticket brokers buy up all the tickets using special software called ticket bots.

"There's these software programs that are used automatically to buy tickets to concerts, to sporting events, to Broadway plays, and they scoop up all the tickets and then they resell them and jack the price of the ticket up so that the consumer doesn't get access to tickets at face value but has to pay these exorbitant prices," U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Thursday.

Doyle is on the House Commerce Committee that pushed legislation to stop this practice, saying performers don't like it either .

"Performers try to price their tickets at a rate that's reasonable so their fans can come see them perform."

But these online ticket scalpers make that impossible.

So in rare unanimity Congress has just passed a bill to ban this rapid purchase ticket bot software.

"It's illegal to sell it.  It's illegal to use it.  And it also prohibits the resale tickets that get purchased through these kinds of programs," says Doyle.

And that could affect many shows in Pittsburgh.

It's unclear whether this soon-to-be illegal ticket scam was used here, but a pre-sale of tickets to comedian Chris Rock's performance at the Benedum on May 17 was sold out within hours, so fast that the comedian is doing a second performance the following night.

One study found that tickets scooped up in the first minutes were on average resold  by at least 50 percent more and often many times higher

"The consumer's being ripped off, and the performers are being ripped off.  The only one making money on this deal are the ticket scalpers," says Doyle.

But this law is expected to bring ticket prices back down to face value unless the public, not the scalpers, resale their tickets.

President Obama has said he will sign this bill.

One study found that -- even when purchases are limited to, say, four, tickets -- the software can buy up to a thousand tickets within minutes of going on sale.

Now -- no more.

Doyle says this will give the state attorneys general the ability to go after scalpers who use this software -- or resell tickets purchased with ticket bots.

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