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Congress passes, sends Obama bill cracking down on ‘bots’ that snap up sports, concert tickets

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is sending legislation to President Barack Obama that could make it easier to get tickets to popular shows, sports events and concerts.

Legislation passed by the House on Wednesday would crack down on computer software used by ticket brokers to snap up tickets. The so-called “bots” rapidly purchase as many tickets as possible for resale at significant markups, and are one of the reasons why tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert or “Hamilton” performance can sell out in just a few minutes.

The bill would make using the software an “unfair and deceptive practice” under the Federal Trade Commission Act and allow the FTC to pursue those cases. The Senate passed the bill last month.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., a co-sponsor of the bill, applauded passage of the legislation.

“People shouldn’t have to beat a robot to enjoy a Seahawks game or a concert at KeyArena. This legislation will crack down on ticket bots and give consumers a fair shake when making ticket purchases,” Cantwell said in a news release.

According to a study by the New York Attorney General’s Office, tickets purchased by bots are resold to consumers at an average markup of 49%.

Cantwell noted that Washington state has already passed legislation similar to the BOTS Act, but bots don’t respect state lines, she said, and a national standard is needed.