OLYMPIA – A consumer protection bill to help prevent computer programs from sweeping up event tickets sold on the Internet and reselling them at inflated prices passed yesterday out of the Senate Committee on Energy, Environment & Technology.

“Anyone who has gone to a concert, the theater or a ball game knows that there’s a major problem with ticket bots sweeping up substantial numbers of tickets automatically and then selling them on both legitimate and less legitimate websites,” Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, the bill’s sponsor, said. “This is an attempt to gain meaningful and actionable regulatory control over companies taking advantage of mass purchasing and to get a handle on a serious consumer protection issue that has become a real problem for lots of people.”

Senate Bill 6488 would require anyone who resells tickets or operates a website facilitating ticket resales to obtain a license to do so. The legislation would also require ticket resellers to keep records on purchases and sales, and report that information to the state Department of Licensing (DOL).

The Office of State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said that the bill “will allow our state to better identify suspicious patterns by large ticket-bot resellers,” adding: “This will assist in targeted investigations of bad actors that take advantage of Washington consumers.”

The bill is intended to combat computer programs, or bots, that scoop up entertainment event tickets by regulating mass purchasing. Ticket resellers that fail to comply with the measure could face fines or other sanctions by the DOL. The bill would also allow the attorney general to take action to combat illegal behavior in the ticket resale market and authorize individuals who are injured by illegal behavior to sue for up to $500 per violation or the amount of damage, whichever is greater.

The annual fee for a ticket reseller license would be $5,000, but the fee would be waived for ticket resellers that charge reasonable delivery fees and do not tack on service fees or other surcharges.

The bill will now move to the Rules Committee for further consideration before going to the Senate floor.