NY's new plan to stop ticket machines that "steal the show"


New York has a new plan to crack down on ticket machines that "steal the show." Ticket bots are already illegal in more than a dozen states, but in New York, violators could end up paying with their freedom, reports CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas.

If you're looking for a ticket to Broadway's hottest show like "Hamilton," it's going to be hard to find and it's going to cost you plenty.

But it's not just "Hamilton." It can be next to impossible to get a ticket for popular concerts too as tickets sell out at a furious rate. One reason is that you're not competing for tickets with humans - you're competing against computers called ticket bots and it is not a fair fight.

New York to crack down on online ticket scalp... 03:00

A single ticket bot scooped up 520 seats to a Beyonce concert in Brooklyn in three minutes. Another snagged up to more than 1,000 U2 tickets to one show in a single minute, soon after the Irish band announced its 2015 world tour.

"The unfair advantage is when you have software programs and systems that start doing it far faster than anyone could normally do it," said CNET editor Scott Stein said. "I'd love it to be fixed, but the question is how. How? I don't think you can stop the bots."

Bots were supposed to be stopped by Captcha boxes, those squiggly, broken up letters you're asked to type in that only humans could detect - until now.

"There's software that can do optical character recognition. The idea that bots and software systems are going to get more intelligent, learn to operate more like humans," Stein explained.

Scalpers sell those bot-purchased tickets on resale websites like StubHub, where they can be marked up many times the original price. StubHub said they're trying to fix the problem.

"We're working with the New York legislator and legislators around the world to make sure that bots are eliminated. It's the best possible way to allow people to get access to tickets fairly and equitably," said Tod Cohen, StubHub's chief counsel and head of public affairs.

It's an issue "Hamilton" star Lin-Manuel Miranda weighed in on in a New York Times op-ed piece, calling for tougher laws to "stop the bots from killing Broadway."

"The secondary ticket market is really like the Wild West," said New York Attorney General Eric Shneiderman. He helped lead the charge in New York's stiffer penalties - ticket bot violations were handled with a fine.

"The fines vary now. But we're talking about thousands of dollars' worth of fines for people who can make millions of dollars," Schneiderman said.

But if Governor Cuomo signs the bill into law, offenders could face jail time.

"We have to take more dramatic action and this is the kind of crime that can be deterred - white-collar crime you can deter," Schneiderman said. "These people do plan ahead. They don't want to be slapped with an indictment."