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Ontario to ban ‘scalper bots’ after Hip fans forced to pay big for tickets

The province of Ontario is taking aim at “scalper bots” that buy up large blocks of concert and sporting event tickets for the purpose of making a profit on the secondary market.

An estimated two-thirds of tickets for the Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem tour were scooped up by bots powered by software and/or brokers, a CBC Marketplace investigation has revealed.

Concert promoter Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, admitted that when it comes to highly sought after tickets the “odds are absolutely stacked against the fan.”

“Probably a third of the tickets went to bots, another third went to brokers who were just like fans, pounding away at the keyboard, but better trained, more aggressive at it, and maybe a third of them went to fans,” Live Nation chief operating officer Joe Berchtold told CBC.

“There’s a big problem, and the big problem starts with bots.”

Watch the Marketplace segment here:

Many Tragically Hip fans resorted to paying exorbitant amounts for a chance to see the band on its farewell tour.

Berchtold estimated that re-sellers made “$25 to $30 million,” during the tour.

Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi was bothered by the fact that fans were left scrambling for alternatives as bots and brokers claimed the majority of tickets. The province is set to introduce legislation in 2017 to ban the use of bots. While the government is examining possible solutions, Naqvi intimated there’s no simple fix.

“I want to see what kind of solutions we can put in place,” Naqvi told the Toronto Star. “New York and London are bigger markets than us, and they’re struggling with the same thing.”

The Tragically Hip’s announced the summer tour after lead singer Gord Downie went public that he has terminal brain cancer.

The band attempted to combat the problem with a ticket lottery on the day of each show, releasing 50 non-transferable tickets for purchase to fans.

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