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Lawmakers step in to short-circuit "ticket robots"

Music lovers who waited online for Desert Trip tickets can relate to the frustration of coveted concerts selling out suspiciously fast.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Lawmakers in Washington want to short-circuit so-called "ticket robots," software that scoops up coveted tickets at major concerts and sporting events before anyone else, so that brokers can resell them at astronomical prices. Congress has proposed a bill to reign in the machines and prohibit the use of ticket bots.

The producer of the hit musical, "Hamilton," implored lawmakers to act, slamming the scalpers who use ticket robots as "computerized cheaters."

"Every time we put a new block of tickets on sale, the 'robots' or 'bots' have invaded the Ticketmaster system the second they went on sale and then electronically purchased almost all of the available inventory." said Jeffrey Seller, "Hamilton" producer. 


That's what drove ticket prices into the thousands and led the show's creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda to call for a crackdown.

"You shouldn't have to fight robots just to see something you love," said Miranda.

The BOTS Act of 2016, introduced in both the House and Senate, would prohibit the use of ticket robot software.

"I would encourage all of my colleagues to co-sponsor this bill," said Sen. Jerry Moran, (R-Kansas).

Some states aren't waiting for Congress to act.
New York's Attorney General issued a scathing report last month, finding ticketing is "a fixed game"... with average markups of 49%.

For example, a single bot snagged more than a thousand tickets for a U2 show in the first minute - despite a limit of four tickets per customer.

The New York state legislature passed a bill banning ticket bots, and Cassandra Chess of Lanham, MD, who missed out on tickets to an Adele concert, hopes more states do the same.

"I don't mind paying for the ticket, but I think it should be done fairly."

The BOTS Act passed the House on Monday. 

No vote on the BOTS Act- which stands for Better On-line Ticket Sales Act has yet been scheduled on the Senate floor. The bills propose making the use of ticket bot software a violation of the Federal Trade Act. Anyone who employed the software could be sued by state or federal governments.

CBS News contributed to this report.


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