Md. bills to ban bulk purchases of concert, sports tickets

WASHINGTON – Maryland lawmakers are trying to even the playing field for sports fans and concertgoers by banning automatic purchases of large blocks of tickets, which drives up the price for consumers.

Friday the House passed a version of the bill, which outlaws automated ticket buying software. This software is used to purchase blocks of tickets automatically and repetitively.

The computer-driven traffic often pushes out individuals trying to buy a few tickets to an event.

“Last year at the Verizon Center, a Beyonce show sold out in 60 seconds. And that’s because of these computer software programs,” Del. Sam Arora, D-Montgomery County, tells WTOP. “And with the launch of MGM Grand coming in a couple of years, we’re probablly going to attract more and more high-profile acts, the kinds that scalpers would love to get all the tickets for. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition applauded lawmakers’ work.

“Too often, Maryland fans are left out of their favorite live events because unscrupulous ticket brokers use (ticket buying software) to buy large blocks of tickets in seconds. Maryland now joins a growing number of states that outlaw (this software) and give consumers a better chance to buy tickets at face value,” Executive Director Marceline White in a statement.

According to the coalition, 12 states have adopted similar laws including Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The ban would be added to the state’s Consumer Protection Act. Any merchant that would violate the proposed ban would face a civil fine of up to $1,000 for the first violation and up to $5,000 for each additional violation, according to legislative services.

The Senate has already passed a similar bill this session and sent it to the House for consideration.

WTOP’s Amanda Iacone and Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on Facebook.

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