Ticket Bots: Everything You Need to Know (2023)

3. Who uses ticket bots?

When you think of the people behind ticket bots, you probably conjure up images of a hacker or criminal type, camped out in a basement. But the reality is different. For example, hospitality agencies can use ticket bots to snag premium seats to include in their package deals.

There are five main types of ticket bot operators, each with their own objectives.

Who launches bots

Bot objectives

Ticket brokers

  • Scrape ticket details
  • Continuously scanning seat map inventory for newly released seats
  • Instantly purchase any available tickets for resale

Individual scalpers

Hospitality agencies

  • Scrape ticket details
  • Continuously scanning seat map inventory for premium seats
  • Instantly purchase best-available tickets for resale

Corporations

Criminals

  • Take over accounts to steal tickets or transfer to another account
  • Conduct credit card fraud and loyalty program fraud (e.g. sports team season ticket holders)

4. Are ticket bots illegal?

Online ticketing bots have been around for at least 20 years. But it’s only in the last 5 years that governments have begun targeting bots with legislation. Depending on where you live, online ticket bots might be illegal—at least technically speaking.

United States

In 2016, the U.S. Congress passed the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act. It made it illegal to buy tickets to events by evading security measures and breaking purchasing rules set up by the ticket issuer. It also banned the resale of such illegally bought tickets.

RELATED: How the BOTS Act Impacts the Ticketing Industry [Webinar]

European Union

In April 2019, the European Union Parliament voted to ban the use of ticket bots, either to buy tickets for resale or “to bypass any other technical means put in place by the primary seller to ensure accessibility of tickets for all individuals.” It also requires professional resellers to identify themselves on online marketplaces.

The legislation marks the first EU-wide legislation on the topic, and also leaves the door open for member states to pass additional laws regarding ticket resale (several already have such laws). The Council of the EU adopted the legislation in November 2019, so EU member states will now have two years to transform the regulations into national law.

United Kingdom

In 2017, the U.K. passed a law that outlaws ticket bots used to exceed ticket purchase limits and requires secondary sellers to provide a unique ticket number with details of seats or standing location.

Australia

In 2017, the Australian state of New South Wales passed anti-bot legislation, which also included a resale cap at no more than 10% over the face value of the ticket. The following year, the state of South Australia ratified the Fair Trading (Ticket Scalping) Amendment Bill to crack down on ticketing bots.

Canada

Although there isn’t yet a nationwide ticket bot law in Canada, several provinces have passed or are considering legislation.

In 2017, Ontario province passed the Ticket Sales Act, which bans tickets from being resold at more than 50% above the face value and makes it illegal to knowingly resell tickets that were purchased by bots.

In 2018, Alberta province implemented their own ban, and British Columbia followed suit in 2019 with their own Ticket Sales Act, which also bans speculative ticket resale where the reseller doesn’t have the ticket in his or her possession.

5. Has legislation been effective?

Enforceability isn’t easy

Enforceability is an ever-present issue with ticketing legislation. Just because a law is on the books doesn’t mean it’s followed. Strong enforcement is necessary to curb illegal behavior.

Indeed, when the Ontario ban originally passed, attorney general Yasir Niqvi acknowledged the difficulty of enforcing the bot ban, as many bot operators are located outside of the province. He cited the 50% resale cap as an easier enforcement tool. Two years later, in 2019, Ontario’s government rolled back the 50% resale cap, saying it wasn’t enforceable.

Similarly, in the U.S. the BOTS Act’s bark has been worse than its bite. In 2018, two year's after the BOTS Act's passage, the Federal Trade Commission—the agency tasked with enforcing the law—couldn’t comment on any instances of enforcement.

Even when the law was passed, the Congressional Budget Office judged it unlikely that substantial enforcement would take place.

“CBO estimates that [revenues from civil penalties] would be insignificant because of the small number of cases that the agency would probably pursue.”

The first (and so far only) BOTS Act enforcement action took place in 2021, when 3 New York-based ticket resellers were fined $31 million for buying more than 150,000 tickets, circumnavigating Ticketmaster's purchase limits and reselling for millions of dollars.

The financial incentives are too lucrative

Using bots to scalp tickets is a perfect example of rent-seeking behavior (economist talk for leeching) that adds no benefit to society. But as long as there’s a secondary market to sell tickets at markups of over 1,000%, bad actors will fill the void to take advantage.

Indeed, the U.S. ticket resale market alone has ballooned to $5 billion. Ticketmaster reported that it blocks 5 billion bot attempts every month. The financial incentive is simply too strong and the threat of legal action too weak to stop malicious bot operators.

Legislation can’t keep up with the technology

In such a rapidly evolving space, legislation becomes outdated as soon as it’s passed. The U.S. BOTS Act, for example, doesn’t appear to apply to people who purchase tickets where they’ve only used bots to reserve the tickets (as Denial of Inventory bots do). The newest iteration of bots will continue to outpace and outmaneuver the legal roadblocks.

It’s clear that the ticketing industry cannot rely on legislation to solve the ticketing bot problem. The onus remains on venues, ticketing organizations, and online platforms to defend against malicious bots during online ticket sales. And companies that aren’t perceived as doing enough to battle bots are playing with fire. Public outrage can quickly turn on such organizations, and potential legal actions can follow in its footsteps.

RELATED: The Battle Between Bad Bots and Ticketing [Webinar]

6. How do you beat bad ticket bots?

Ticketing was the first industry to suffer the plague of bots. And given the fortune that successful bot operators can make, ticketing bots aren’t going away anytime soon.

We’ve seen limited impact from ticket bot legislation thus far. So ticketing organizations are best positioned to adapt to the constantly evolving bot threat.

A full-fledged plan to deal with ticket bots must span several levels, from concrete technical tactics to comprehensive bot mitigation solutions to larger ticketing strategy.

Detailed monitoring

Monitoring is key because behavior is what helps you tell real fans from bad bots.

For example, we know the majority of stolen credentials fail during a credential stuffing attack. So, if you have monitoring that reports a sudden spike of traffic to the login page combined with a higher than normal failed login rate, it indicates account takeover attempts by bots.

Another example is if there is a high concentration of visitors using the same IP address. At Queue-it, we’ve found over 50% of the bots blocked by our virtual waiting room’s abuse and bot protection emanate from the same IP address. The bots are trying to simulate real users on a massive scale but getting unique IP addresses is an additional step that not all bot operators take.

Bot mitigation solutions

Bots have changed the economics of the ticketing business, so ticketing organizations need to change the economics of bot attacks. That means targeting each bot attack vector and increasing the costs bot operators incur in order to overcome the protections.

On account creation, for example, bot mitigation tools validate biometric data like mouse movements, mobile swipe, and accelerometer data to distinguish bots from real users, and then feed that data into machine learning algorithms. You can also block or enforce Google’s reCAPTCHA on traffic from known bot hosting providers and outdated browsers typically used to run ticket bots.

During the onsale itself, you can target the speed and volume advantages that bots enjoy. A tool like a virtual waiting room can help neutralize both. Bots that arrive before the onsale starts are placed in a pre-queue together with legitimate users. When the event launches, everyone in the pre-queue is randomized. This eliminates any advantage in arriving early or hitting the web page milliseconds after the start of the sale.

Ticketing organizations can require visitors to enter known data, such as a membership number, to enter the virtual waiting room. Combining known data like this makes impersonating real users exceptionally expensive and complex, and is thus a powerful way of combating bots’ volume advantage.

Finally, you can implement bot mitigation tactics on the ticket payment step similar to how you would on account creation to flag brute-force attacks like carding or card cracking. Stopping fraudulent account creation also helps prevent online card fraud.

New (and old) ticketing strategies

Shifts in ticketing strategies can play an equally vital role in battling bots. We’ve already seen several examples where ticket bot regulations also include caps on ticket resale prices to remove some of scalpers’ financial incentive.

With the expanded adoption of smartphones, mobile ticketing is a promising strategy to curb scalping. The paper ticket is “this paper entity that can be spoofed and subject to fraud,” says Kristin Darrow, senior vice president at Tessitura Network. Mobile ticketing puts more control measures in place, such as tracking the transfer of tickets and limiting sales by geographic area. In 2019, Spanish festival Primavera Sound became the first major music festival to go completely mobile with their ticketing, and has features like a QR code that only appears two hours before the concert to keep tickets from being sold on secondary markets.

What’s old is also new again. Paperless ticketing—where the purchaser uses his or her credit card and a form of ID to enter the event instead of a ticket—"has been around for over 25 years,” says ticketing insider Ian English. The strategy certainly has tradeoffs, in that it is rigid and can be difficult to transfer tickets or purchase on behalf of someone else. But it has documented effectiveness in battling scalpers and reducing tickets on the secondary market. High-demand shows like Hamilton continue to experiment with the approach.

RELATED: Keeping the Internet Fair: Queue-it's Commitment to Online Fairness

7. Restoring fairness to online ticketing

The ultimate goal is to restore fairness to online ticketing. Here’s how Edward Roberts, Director of Product Marketing at Distil Networks (now part of Imperva), describes what fairness means to the different players in the ticketing industry:

  • For a fan, a fair experience is getting the same chance as any other fan to purchase available tickets at face value.
  • For an artist, it is getting tickets into the hands of enthusiastic fans into their shows.
  • For a ticketing company, it’s providing access to real humans to purchase the available tickets and eliminating any automation from abusing the system and ruining the ticketing buying experience for real fans.

With public outcry and artists’ frustration over ticketing bots at a boiling point, organizations that don’t take the problem seriously do so at their own peril.

But if you’re a ticketing organization and are committed to stopping ticket bots, there are tools and strategies at your disposal. Combined, you can tailor them to the unique angles of attack during each stage of the ticket-buying process to give you the best chance of achieving successful, bot-free onsales.

(This post has been updated since it was originally written in 2019).

FAQs

How do you get ticket bot to work? ›

How to setup Ticket Tool Discord Bot - The best Discord ticket bot 2020

What does the ticket bot do in Discord? ›

Ticket System Discord Bot. A ticket discord bot is a software program that automates the online search process for tickets on online platforms. Using a ticket discord boat for an organization promotes speed.

How do I create a ticket in Discord? ›

Using The Ticket Tool to Create Ticket on Discord

They can open and click on the Create ticket button to create the ticket. Once the ticket is created, the bot will reply with a ticket number that people can click on to enter the ticket channel which is only accessible to that user and the support team.

Does Ticketmaster allow bots? ›

The answer is ticket bots. Ticket bots are moving faster than ever – snatching up the best seats at great prices, all in a matter of seconds. Ticketmaster is committed to fighting bots and getting more tickets into the hands of fans at prices set by the artist, show, or team.

How do scalpers use bots? ›

Scalper bots, sometimes called shopping bots or purchasing bots, are software programs designed to automate online purchasing. Because bots can complete the checkout process much faster than humans can, scalper bots are used to bulk buy limited-edition products.

How do you beat a Ticketmaster queue? ›

Lewis Capaldi brings out the Buckfast in Cork's Independent Park.
  1. Create an account in advance.
  2. Login before tickets go on sale.
  3. Use a secure connection.
  4. Only Use One Browser/Tab and don't refresh.
  5. Avoid camping on the event page.
  6. Check your emails.
Sep 26, 2019

How do I use Modmail Discord? ›

How to use Modmail
  1. The first step to opening a ticket and getting a response from staff and/or mods is to send a direct message to Modmail (Elemental).
  2. Messaging the bot in the XA Discord Server will generate a direct message from Elemental Bot to your Discord account.
Feb 24, 2021

How do I track my Discord invites? ›

How to Track Invites on Discord - YouTube

Does Ticketmaster track your IP? ›

If you use our website or apps, we may collect information about the browser and device you're using, your IP address, your location, the site you came from, the site you visit when you leave us, and how you used or didn't use our site or app. We may collect this using technology such as GPS and Wi-Fi.

Does Ticketmaster work with scalpers? ›

And I learned enough to know that the “anti-scalper” strategies Ticketmaster has deployed in recent years benefits scalpers, not fans. It is the full-time job of thousands of people in the U.S. and around the world to buy tickets during hectic Ticketmaster onsales and sell them at jacked-up prices.

Is Botting government websites illegal? ›

Violating the BOTS Act can earn you a one-way ticket to law enforcement. It doesn't matter how the defendants do it. It's the act of circumventing “a security measure, access control system, or other technological control or measure . . . the ticket seller has put in place” that violates the BOTS Act.

Are ticket bots illegal? ›

In December of 2016, President Barack Obama signed the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, a nationwide ban of ticket bots that makes using computer software to circumvent ticket purchase limits and bypass venues' ticketing rules a federal offense.

How do I use Modmail Discord? ›

How to use Modmail
  1. The first step to opening a ticket and getting a response from staff and/or mods is to send a direct message to Modmail (Elemental).
  2. Messaging the bot in the XA Discord Server will generate a direct message from Elemental Bot to your Discord account.
Feb 24, 2021

How do online ticket queues work? ›

How does an online queue system work? When online visitors go beyond your website capacity, they are offloaded to a customizable online queue and then throttled back to your website or app in a controlled first-come, first-served order.

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