Ontario politician wants ticket scooping ‘scalper bots’ outlawed

Scalper bots are one of the factors being blamed in the ticket fiasco with The Tragically Hip’s last tour.
Scalper bots are one of the factors being blamed in the ticket fiasco with The Tragically Hip’s last tour. (Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Light)

There is a relatively new evil in ticket scalping: the scalper bot.

The bots, computer software with the capability of bypassing ticket limits, have the capability of buying up whole blocks of tickets to events, and then putting them up for resale at a much higher price.

Scalper bots are one of the factors being blamed in the ticket fiasco with The Tragically Hip’s last tour, in which tickets were sold out in a matter of minutes.

Ontario Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament Sophie Kiwala, has had enough and has introduced a bill that would make the use of scalper bots illegal and would also force resellers to disclose the original ticket price.

Kiwala told the Ontario legislature the bill was necessary saying, “I have heard my constituents say that their experiences in ticket-buying have left them frustrated and discouraged. . .There is simply no way in which human ability can surpass how quickly a scalper bot can purchase a large volume of tickets in only a few moments.”

However, critics of the bill have pointed the finger of blame not at the bots but at the government itself, which allowed the legalization of ticket scalping in 2015.

The New Democratic Party’s Monique Taylor explained that thanks to the legalization of ticket scalping, “That opened the door to the big players in the business with the sophisticated software. . .The legalization of the reseller market is where the issue starts, and that’s what the government needs to address.”

Former Ontario Attorney General Madeline Meilleur had said that the ministry would look into online ticket regulation, after The Tragically Hip ticket fiasco but so far that hasn’t materialized.

In the meantime, consumers are so furious about the scalping bots that they want scalpers punished for using the bots.

Eighty-seven per cent would like to see a law similar to the one the state of New York is thinking about, which would [see] either severe fines or jail time for scalpers who are caught using bots. . .”, explains Mario Canseco of Insights West, a market research company, which conducted a survey of Canadian concertgoers this year.

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