ALBANY - Using an automated ticket bot to snatch up and resell seats to in-demand shows and sporting events will soon be a misdemeanor under a bill signed late Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The bill, one of 133 with a midnight deadline for Cuomo to sign or veto, makes it a class A misdemeanor to use software or a computer-aided device to purchase tickets from Ticketmaster and other retail outlets only to turn around and sell them for a profit.
While ticket bots were previously outlawed in New York, a violation only carried a small fine.
The new crime, which takes effect in 90 days, carries the misdemeanor tag, which can draw a punishment of up to a year in jail.
In a statement, Cuomo said "unscrupulous speculators and their underhanded tactics" have manipulated the ticket-selling market and leave the public with "little choice but to buy tickets on the secondary market at an exorbitant mark-up."
“It’s predatory, it’s wrong and, with this legislation, we are taking an important step towards restoring fairness and equity back to this multi-billion dollar industry," Cuomo said in a statement.
The state Legislature passed the bill in June amid a rapid rise in the use of automated bots to scoop up tickets to major events, often leaving the general public scrambling to pay above-face-value prices on the secondary market, including ticket-resale sites like StubHub.
In January, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a report that found at least tens of thousands of tickets in New York are purchased by ticket bots each year.
The bill signed by Cuomo Monday bolsters the state's law against the bots, using clearer language to say what is and isn't illegal.
The new law makes clear it's against the law for any person, firm, corporation or other entity to use ticket-purchasing software to buy tickets. It also makes it illegal for anyone to re-sell tickets if they know they were purchased by a bot and not for their personal use.
Those violations are punishable by the $500 to $1,500 civil penalty, along with the forfeiting of any profits made.
It only rises to the level of a misdemeanor if someone intentionally uses a bot with the intent of selling the tickets for a profit. The crime comes with the potential for jail time.
Schneiderman is tasked with enforcing the ticket-bot law.
"Brokers armed with illegal, high-speed ticket-buying bots have kept too many New Yorkers from attending the shows, sporting events, and cultural experiences that make New York so special," Schneiderman said in a statement.
Jason Adler, an assistant attorney general in the Bureau of Internet and Technology, praised the law as a way to deter brokers from using the software.
"I think it's one of the big problems that's facing the industry," Adler said, "and causes tickets to fall into the hands of brokers instead of consumers."