UK Lawmakers In Talks To Ban Scalping Due To Next-Gen Console Shortages

Scalpers are in the Scottish National MP's sights as retailers continue to lose stock to bots.

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Months after launch, both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are still rapidly selling out as soon as retailers announce they have stock. This shortage has led some UK lawmakers to call for the practice of scalping--where bots are used to purchase multiple units at once to later sell at a higher price--to be banned.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the problem of scalping has been exacerbated with most retailers having to go fully online to sell their wares. This makes it that much easier for automated bots to run away with surplus units their owners can then sell at a premium. While some retailers have tried to put forth preventative measures like limiting one purchase per address, scalpers have been able to figure out ways around, and even methods of stopping it have become monetized.

To combat this, Scottish National Party MP Douglas Chapman and other members of parliament are now calling for scalping to be criminalized. Chapman described the practice to Sky News as "profiteering" and "a total scam." To combat this, Chapman has brought a private members bill called the Gaming Hardware (Automated Purchase and Resale) Bill 2019-21 forward. If it passes, scalping would be banned similarly to how ticket reselling at higher prices was a few years ago. Chapman has acknowledged that the legislation is likely a long shot, but said it was one of the actions available to him in order to make the government "take responsibility" for the issue.

In response to an Early Day Motion Chapman submitted in December, minister of state for digital and culture Caroline Dinenage said: "Officials are discussing this issue with the trade association for the video games industry."

"We know that bulk purchasing through automated bots is a concern for some of their members who we understand are currently looking at any further actions they can take to prevent these behaviours and are working with their retailers to improve experiences for customers," she continued. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport's spokesperson has said it has no further comment at this time.

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