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Schumer set to unveil legislation cracking down on illegal cornering of concert-ticket market

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer planned to come to First Niagara Center on Monday afternoon to introduce a new Senate bill designed to prevent, or at least reduce, the kind of rampant disgust that left thousands of Paul McCartney fans feeling squeezed out of the market for tickets to the iconic singer’s Oct. 22 concert here.

The Schumer legislation would crack down on “bots” – sophisticated robotic computer programs – that enable secondary ticket sellers to corner the market on tickets to such high-demand events as the McCartney concert next month and the Rolling Stones appearance at Ralph Wilson Stadium in July.

Promoters and other ticket sellers have claimed that secondary ticket sellers use bots to scoop up anywhere from 35 to even 50 percent of the tickets for popular concerts. Those online scalpers can buy thousands of tickets in just minutes, reselling them at overinflated prices and freezing out the individual ticket-buyers.

The new Senate legislation being introduced by Schumer would prohibit “the unfair and deceptive act” of using bots and other software to circumvent safeguards designed to ensure that concertgoers have fair access to buy tickets.

Selling any ticket after knowingly buying it through a bot could lead to a $1,000 fine for each ticket sold, according to the Schumer legislation.

New York’s senior senator also is pushing his Senate colleagues to pass a law identical to a bipartisan House bill, the Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2014 – or the BOTS Act.

At least 14 states, including New York, currently have laws prohibiting the use of bots by ticket-selling companies and scalpers to buy tickets in large numbers and resell them at huge profits.

Officials, though, have called this a national problem that crosses state lines, because ticket transactions can involve multiple states. For example, someone in California could buy a ticket to a concert in New York and sell it to someone in New Jersey. So, in this case, an attorney general in one state would have to subpoena records and deal with attorneys in two other states.

“That’s exactly why we need federal legislation, because there’s no coordination between the states,” a Schumer spokesman said.

email: gwarner@buffnews.com