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U.S. Lawmakers Are Taking Action Against Console Scalpers

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U.S. Lawmakers Are Taking Action Against Console Scalpers

Lawmakers in the United States are finally taking action against video game console scalpers - or at least attempting to, anyway.

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A handful of Democratic lawmakers are once again pushing an older piece of legislation designed to outlaw the use of automated bots to buy up in-demand items such as consoles and graphics cards.

Many scalping groups make use of specially designed bots to identify hot items and jump online queues so that they can buy up stock and sell it on for inflated prices. Naturally, outlawing such techniques would put scalpers at a disadvantage. That's the idea, at least.

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Earlier this week, New York Representative Paul Tonko, along with Senators Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut), Chuck Schumer (New York), and Ben Ray Luján (New Mexico) announced a fresh push for the 'Stopping Grinch Bots Act'.

“The bicameral bill will crack down on cyber Grinches using ‘bot’ technology to quickly buy up whole inventories of popular holiday toys and resell them to parents at higher prices,” the lawmakers wrote in a joint statement.

The legislation was originally introduced by Tonko, Blumenthal, and Schumer back in 2019. Since then, the problem has only gotten worse. Since the launch of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X last year, scalpers have been successfully selling on the new-gen consoles for obscene prices. Scalpers openly brag about buying up thousands of consoles and selling them on for huge profit.

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“The average holiday shopper is unable to compete with the light speed of the all-too-common Grinch bot and are then held at ransom by scalpers and third-party resellers when trying to buy holiday presents,” Schumer said. "After a particularly trying year, no parent or American should have to fork over hundreds—or even thousands—of dollars to buy Christmas and holiday gifts for their children and loved ones."

The proposed legislation builds on a law passed back in 2016 that made it illegal for automated bots to buy up tickets for big events like live music and sports. It also outlawed the selling of any tickets obtained through such bots. The Stopping Grinch Bots Act would simply extend this law to include all retail sites.

“Our Grinch Bots Act works to level the playing field and prevent scalpers from sucking hardworking parents dry this holiday season,” Tonko said. “I urge my colleagues to join me in passing this legislation immediately to stop these Grinch bots from stealing the holidays.” 

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While the group's last attempt didn't really get off the ground, it's hoped that the last year of hardware shortages and supply chain issues will do more to spark action. The UK government also recently announced similar plans to outlaw bots, though it remains to be seen when - or if - any concrete action will be taken.

Featured Image Credit: Sony

Topics: PlayStation, Xbox

Ewan Moore
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