Measures which add oversight to sales of tickets to big events, such as sporting events and concerts, are moving through the state legislature.

Missouri capitol

The proposals outlaws the use of software to make purchases, while it requires retailers to offer transferable tickets for all seats.

House Republican Shawn Rhoads of West Plains says the computer programs, known as bots, unfairly inflate the cost of tickets.

“These bot programs, computer programs, buy all the tickets” said Rhoads.  “The minute they go on sale they buy every one of them.  The problem is that obviously they take those tickets and they resell them for a higher value.”

Bots possess algorithms that are able to circumvent online security measures to purchase mass numbers of tickets from retailers.

Rhoads is sponsoring the House version of the measure, which has already received initial approval in the chamber.  It could receive final passage as early as Monday, when the legislature returns to session after its annual week-long spring break.

The Senate version, sponsored by Republican Caleb Rowden, has only received a hearing and has yet to receive a vote at the committee level.

As well as banning the use of bot programs for ticket purchases, the measure also would call on retailers to offer transferable tickets for all seats.  Rhoads says non-transferable tickets are problematic because the purchaser must present an ID and credit card at the venue.

“I’ve heard several instances of constituents that have already said ‘Grandma bought the grand kids tickets to One Direction’, or whatever, and didn’t realize that they were restricted tickets.  And they (grand kids) went to the concert and weren’t able to get in because they weren’t the person that purchased the tickets.”

Non-transferable tickets are typically reserved for a limited number of higher priced seats.  When the bill was presented by Rhoads before a House committee, several groups including St. Louis ticket broker Metrotix and the Fox Theater, as well as national retailer Ticketmaster, testified against this portion of it.

Rhoads said there was universal support for the measure’s component outlawing the bot software programs.  Organizations such as Netchoice and E-Bay spoke out in its favor.

There’s already been federal rules put in place to ban bots.  Then President Barack Obama signed the “Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016” in December.  Rhoads, however, says the state’s legislation would built on efforts at the national level.

“There is federal language for laws restricting bots.  I think they’re currently trying to work on more.  But if this bill passes, it would be harsher penalties than the federal law.”

Efforts to combat illicit buying of multiple tickets for resale via automated software is also moving through legislative bodies overseas, specifically in Australia and the United Kingdom.