MEPs have voted to outlaw the use of ticket bots in what represents the EU's first action against industrial-scale ticket touting.
The ruling, which follows the introduction of targeted bot legislation in the UK, US, Ontario, South Australia and New South Wales, also requires resellers to declare if they are professional traders.
The move promises to strengthen the hand of watchdogs such as the Competition And Markets Authority and Advertising Standards Agency in the UK. Once implemented, it will be applicable through the Brexit transition period and form part of the UK’s incumbent laws on consumer rights. It will also allow for more stringent provisions at national level, such as a complete ban on resale for profit.
Daniel Dalton, UK MEP and rapporteur of the revised Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, in which the new legislation is captured, said: "Everyone apart from touts loses out from bot bulk-buying of tickets. Real fans are either unable to see their favourite team or artist or are forced to pay many times the face value price, whilst event organisers are seeing their purchasing limits flagrantly violated. So this first 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."
Everyone apart from touts loses out from bot bulk-buying of tickets
Dr Johannes Ulbricht, lawyer for German Music Promoters Association BDKV added: “BDKV supports the initiative of FEAT, which is definitely a step into the right direction.”
Katie O’Leary, campaign lead of Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT), which raised awareness of the issue at EU level, 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 secondary ticketing companies tend to exploit regulatory gaps between countries. There is still much to be done and we will be campaigning for tougher legislation in the next parliamentary term.”
Sharon Hodgson MP for Washington and Sunderland West and chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse, 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.”