U.S. Congress introduces bill to ban “Grinch bots” from snatching up current-gen consoles

You’re a greedy one, Mr. Grinch.

Image via Sony

Democratic Senators have introduced a bill to Congress that will ban the use of “Grinch bots” to snatching up current-gen consoles, especially the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, this holiday season.

As reported by Video Games Chronicle, the bill is dubbed the “Stopping Grinch Bots Act,” and it was drafted by Representative Paul Tonko, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senator Ben Ray Luj├ín. They introduced the bill in the hopes that the U.S. government will crack down on scalpers mass-purchasing game consoles and reselling them at exorbitant prices.

The gist of the Grinch bots, aptly named just in time for the holidays, is that they automatically notify users when the consoles go on sale at retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, and Target, and circumvent the wait times by adding the items to their cart and completing the checkout process before the consoles go live at the scheduled time. Scalpers have used these bots to snatch up high-end sneakers like Air Jordans for decades, but they have been targeting the PS5 and the Xbox Series X/S since they came out last year due to gaming’s sharp rise in popularity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Stopping Grinch Bots Act is similar to the 2016 Better Online Ticket Sales Act, which made it illegal for scalpers to use bots to buy up tickets to concerts and other events. The senators hope that the new legislation would be passed into law as soon as possible so that people working to buy the current-gen consoles for their families won’t have to work harder at beating the bots to secure them, especially during the holidays.

Schumer added that the average shopper cannot compete with the bots that make procuring the consoles look like winning the lottery and that the bill will put scalpers in their place, not to mention ease up the supply chain. However, it’s unlikely that the bill won’t be signed into law before the year is over, considering that most laws take months, if not years, to go into effect.