Cheap 'Hamilton' Tickets Aren't Available For Congress, Either — And It's Mad About It
For many concert and theater-goers, it's a frustratingly familiar experience: you wait for the tickets to go on sale, and not more than 30 seconds after they're released, all of the tickets sell out. Next, they're being resold for hundreds of dollars higher than the original price on some sketchy third-party website. Such is now the case with the Broadway hit Hamilton, and not even your lawmaker can afford shelling out $800 for a ticket. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson knows this frustration firsthand — after he attempted to purchase a ticket to the musical, he was hit with the unaffordable $800 price tag.
Thankfully, Congress is now taking aim at this practice known as ticketing, which allows bots to bypass rules that prevent individuals from buying tickets en masse. Bill H.R. 5104 has already moved through the House, and if passed in the Senate, it would become illegal for people to use bots to make bulk purchases for Broadway shows. The bill would also make it a crime to sell bot software and sell tickets consciously purchased through bots.
Nelson, along with Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller and representatives from the ticketing and gaming industry, spoke before a Senate Commerce subcommittee on Tuesday to support the bill. The Florida Senator didn't mince words when talking about outside vendors' use of bots to purchase and gouge ticket prices: "This is not capitalism, this is not the free market, this is a rigged market benefiting some greedy speculators," Nelson said.
Hamilton producer Seller also wants to make his show more accessible to everyone, including lawmakers. Speaking before the subcommittee, he said: "My reason for being here today — I would even go so far as to call it my mission — is to insure that young people, and people of all ages, including Senator Nelson, for that matter, have the same opportunity to see live performances of whatever interests them — musicals, plays and concerts."
This bill would have an effect far outside the Broadway world, likewise making it illegal to purchase tickets for sporting events and concerts in bulk. And with good reason — concert-goers fall just as victim to the scamming as Broadway attendees.
According to a report from the New York attorney general's office, two bots purchased more than 15,000 tickets to U2's North American tour in a single day in 2014. The report also found that between 2013 and 2014, just a dozen of these third party vendors made more than $3 million from their ticket sales. This number seems disturbingly possible when you realize that the vendors typically mark up ticket prices by 49 percent on average.
Thankfully for theater and music lovers, the bill has thus far found bipartisan support. So you may just get a chance to see Hamilton for an affordable price — if you have the patience to get through the wait list, that is.