Ticket touts who use automated software known as ‘bots’ in order to gobble up huge amounts of tickets to sell on at inflated prices now face the potential of unlimited fines under new British laws enacted today.

Over the last couple of years, major artists such as Ed Sheeran, Arctic Monkeys and Iron Maiden have been publicising the issue of so-called ‘secondary ticketing’, where unscrupulous use sites like Viagogo or StubHub to re-sell tickets at enormous mark-ups for popular events which sell out in seconds because of the software that allows them to buy huge numbers of tickets in one go.

The change in the law was announced by the British government back in January this year and comes into force on Thursday (July 5th), and those found to be using ‘bot’ software are liable to unlimited fines by British courts.

Ed SheeranEd Sheeran has been one of the biggest names campaigning for a change in the law

“Fans deserve the chance to see their favourite artists at a fair price,” the government’s Digital and Creative Industries minister Margot James said in a statement. “Too often they have been priced out of the market due to unscrupulous touts buying up huge batches of tickets and selling them on at ridiculous prices.

“From today I am pleased to say that we have successfully banned the bots. We are giving the power back to consumers to help to make 2018 a great year for Britain’s booming events scene.”

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Adam Webb, the campaign manager for FanFair Alliance, added: “Taking action against touts who bulk-harvest tickets is another important step towards cleaning up the so-called secondary market. Alongside strong and swift enforcement of consumer legislation through agencies like National Trading Standards and the Competition & Markets Authority, there is clear potential to root out the bad actors and to allow a new breed of fair, transparent, and law-abiding ticket resale services to flourish.”

However, security and ticketing expert Reg Walker sounded a note of caution over the new laws, pointing out that many touts would find ways to bypass the legislation or resort to alternative methods of doing what they did before.

“Bots are just one tool in the touts’ box,” Walker said. “There are changes in technology that mean there may be loopholes in the legislation that they can exploit.”

More: Ed Sheeran’s promoter turned away from Viagogo’s offices after confronting them over ticket touting