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UK government proposes prison time for ticket touts

UK government proposes prison time for ticket touts

A new bill aimed at stopping ticket touts from using scalper bots has been proposed for consideration by parliament, after Conservative MP Nigel Adams found himself on the receiving end of tout-induced disappointment. Starting the new bill after having lost out on concert tickets because a scalper bot had already bought them, Adams told
The Guardian that “I believe in the free market but I don’t believe in a crooked market. When that happens, politicians need to act, irrespective of political dogma”. The move will be considered a step in the right direction for people concerned with consumer rights in the ticketing industry, and fires a warning shot to touts who take advantage of high demand and automated technology to extort money from music fans for popular events.  

Under the new bill, anyone found to have used scalper bots could face a £5000 fine or even a maximum of 51 weeks in prison. Scalper bots are software programs that are specially made to purchase large numbers of tickets online, buying out significant percentages of an event’s tickets at face value so that they can be sold on at profit when the event is officially sold out. Such technology has been instrumental in allowing touts to increase the number of tickets that they buy and sell on, meaning more and more gig-goers have been forced to pay over the odds if they want to attend popular club nights, concerts or any other ticketed events.

Attempts to prevent the usage of such bots have not only been made in the UK, with the state of New York recently criminalising the software and the government of Ontario this week announcing their plan to do the same. Of course, such measures may not completely eradicate the problem, but the passing of such a bill would at least offer a disincentive to anyone looking to exploit consumer desires and make money from events that they have no interest in attending themselves.

“It’s not a silver bullet but it will go a long way and act as some deterrent… If there’s no punishment for this sort of rip-off behaviour it will continue to happen”, Adams insisted, going on to state his belief that the bill will pass despite inevitable opposition from free market advocates.

Words by Andrew Kemp
Main photo courtesy of BBE Booking Agency

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UK government proposes prison time for ticket touts

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