The use of computer software to bulk buy tickets for gigs and sporting events will be made illegal in an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill. The amendment will give the government the power to create a new criminal offence of using bots to bypass limits on maximum ticket purchases set by event organisers. Touts who break the new law will face unlimited fines.

FanFair Alliance, the anti-touting group, has hailed the government’s ban on bots as “vindication” for anti-touting campaigners.

Ministers are also accepting the recommendations of Professor Michael Waterson’s review into secondary ticketing, published last May, which called for ticket sellers to put in place tougher anti-bot measures and report bot attacks, stronger enforcement of existing consumer rights laws, and the threat of further action if the industry does not act against rogue ticket traders.

The government is to provide investment to support National Trading Standards in its work alongside the Competition And Markets Authority on an enforcement investigation into suspected breaches of consumer protection law in the online secondary ticketing market.

Richard Davies, founder of fan-to-fan face-value ticket reseller, Twickets, also welcomed the development. He said: “It’s heartening to hear that after years of campaigning, the government appears to have gotten the bit between its teeth on clamping down on the profiteering rife within the secondary market.

“The news that Trading Standards will be funded to enforce these measures and that Waterson’s other recommendations have been accepted in full are also welcome, though we urge the government to go further and ban secondary ticketing for profit outright.”

Stuart Cain, Managing Director at The Ticket Factory, said: “Artists, ticket agents and promoters across the industry have really come together on this issue and united in the fight against touts and secondary sites. For too long a lack of legislation has been allowing fans to be ripped off, while also diverting revenues from the creative economy.

“Now, with the Government’s announcement that it will crack down on the use of bots to bulk-buy and will implement the recommendations laid out in the Waterson report, it finally feels like the tide is turning. 

“Essentially, anything that allows for greater transparency in the market and help to stop fans being conned is a positive. There’s still a way to go, but this is a promising first step when it comes to the industry finally cleaning up its act.”