Robots. Ticket-hungry bots. They are the reason why we can’t see the incredibly diverse and culturally significant hip-hop musical on Broadway. In a New York Times op-ed, Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda pens about the very illegal yet lucrative hustle involving third-party brokers and special automated software called “ticket bots.”
“[Eric T. Schneiderman’s] findings are detailed in a report called ‘Obstructed View: What’s Blocking New Yorkers From Getting Tickets’. Brokers use bots to connect at lightning speed,” explains the playwright, “and gobble up as many hot tickets as possible, then offer them on legal resale sites like StubHub.”
Schneiderman’s investigation proved that tens of thousands of tickets to New York events are acquired each year using said software. Brokers who purchase tickets in bulk using bots mark up the prices substantially, often “by more than 1,000 percent.”
“Tickets are taken out of circulation, punishing people who can’t afford to pay more than face value,” he says. “The extra money doesn’t provide a better concert or show experience for you, the fan. Instead, it goes straight to the broker’s bottom line.”
So, what’s the remedy? Manuel insists this problem will persist until existing laws are reinforced, making “the recurrent illegal behavior a felony.”
Schneiderman and Bronx Democratic assemblyman Marcos Crespo proposed similar bills addressing the rampant illegal use of bots. The former was passed unanimously by the State Senate “making it illegal for ticket brokers to knowingly resell or offer to resell tickets purchased using bots and requiring ticket resale platforms like StubHub to post the price they paid for tickets on their platform so that consumers can easily see the markup price.”
The bills greatest contribution, however, is its creation of criminal penalties, including imprisonment, for repeat offenders.
“I want the thousands of tickets for shows, concerts and sporting events that are now purchased by bots and resold at higher prices to go into the general market so that you have a chance to get them. I want theatergoers to be able to purchase tickets at face value at our box office and our website, rather than on a resale platform. And if you do go to a resale platform for tickets, I want the markup you must pay to be clearly displayed,” Manuel writes fervently. “Most of all, I want you to be there when the curtain goes up. You shouldn’t have to fight robots just to see something you love.”