All You Need to Know About Ticket Bots
Many online retailers are struggling with bots. Things often get sold out in minutes, from the latest fashion, gadgets, gaming consoles, sneakers to concert tickets. This leaves angry fans to deal with resellers where the costs can exceed 1,000% of the item’s original value, all thanks to bots. Let’s take a look at ticket bots and how they work.
What is a Ticket Bot and are They All Bad?
Bots are automated programs that can perform specific automated tasks online. Ticket bots focus on tasks related to ticketing – scraping prices, checking ticket availability, and buying them. Not all bots are harmful, though. Many of them work on making our online experiences better. They fill up our feeds, provide stock information, inform us on the weather, etc.
Unfortunately, not all bots are good either. While ticketing bots can help people find the best deals on tickets for different events, they’re used mainly by scalpers to purchase the hottest tickets and sell them at a huge markup. Some sources claim that ticket bots made up almost 40% of ticketing web traffic back in 2019. Things have only gotten worse since then.
How Does a Ticket Bot Work?
People use ticket bots in different stages of the purchase procedure, so it’s not a question of how but when they work. Here’s a brief overview:
Before the Sale
Even before the sale starts, fraudsters use ticket bots to create bogus customer accounts or gain control of existing ones. Depending on the scale of their operations, this number can go from a handful to a couple of thousands.
During the Sale
Once the sale starts, scalpers use these accounts with bots and tickets proxies to get their hands on as many tickets as possible. A regular user is often limited to one or two tickets per account, so a few thousand accounts means being able to reserve just as many tickets, leaving everyone else empty-handed. Since the whole process is automated, a bot can complete a purchase on any website a lot faster than a human visitor.
After the Sale
Once the tickets become unavailable through regular channels, scalpers list them on resale websites, often for incredibly inflated prices. Some fans are ready to pay as much as it takes to get their hands on tickets, allowing scalpers to make a huge profit in the process.
Who Uses Ticket Bots?
Not all bot users are criminals. Hospitality agencies often use these bots to get premium seats for their package deals. Ticket brokers use bots to keep an eye on inventory or pricing details on different websites. Even regular fans sometimes use ticket bots to find the best deal available and save some money by avoiding scalpers and resellers. In all these scenarios, they utilize proxies like the ones at iproyal.com.
Is Ticket Botting Illegal?
Ticket botting has been around for over two decades. However, legislation started targeting them only in the last five years. While it’s still a gray area, ticket bots might be outside the law depending on where you live. The US Congress passed the Better Online Ticket Sales (or BOTS) Act in 2016, making it illegal to buy tickets with bots or resell them.
The EU Parliament voted to ban using ticket bots to bypass technical and security limitations in 2019 and make professional resellers identify themselves on ticket-selling websites. It’s the first EU-wide legislation covering the topic, leaving the option for member states to introduce additional laws and regulate their markets.
The United Kingdom outlawed illegal ticket botting in 2017, just like Canada and Australia, which also introduced a resale cap of 10% compared to a ticket’s initial value.
Unfortunately, these solutions made one thing clear – legislation just can’t keep up with the technology. The botting space keeps evolving, so legislation often becomes outdated right after it’s passed. The ticketing industry can’t (and shouldn’t) rely on legislation to solve this problem.
How to Deal With Bad Ticket Bots?
Successful botters can make a fortune, so it’s safe to say the practice won’t go away soon. The mentioned legislation had a limited impact, so it’s up to ticketing organizations to deal with the ever-evolving threat by specific technical solutions and better ticketing strategies. This is the only way to reintroduce fairness to online ticketing systems, prevent abuse, and offer everyone equal chances of purchasing tickets.