Monday, June 8, 2015

The MMA Bill Has Been Revamped - Here's What's New


Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle said there would be changes coming to the MMA bill, and he wasn't kidding. A new, revamped version of A02604 was unveiled today, and it is an expansive piece of legislation pretty much unrecognizable from previous versions. Will these changes be enough to sway some of the undecideds within the Assembly before the end of the session on June 17? Possibly, and with the Senate expected to adopt these changes to their version of the bill, we will likely soon see a radically different combative sports landscape in New York.

Here are the more salient points of the new bill:

  • Amateur MMA is permitted, and will be sanctioned by the Athletic Commission or by third-party organizations approved by the Commission. There will be no more unsanctioned events allowed;
  • The Commission will have jurisdiction over all combative sports, including professional wrestling, martial arts and kickboxing. The list of organizations approved for sanctioning of martial arts events is gone, and the Commission will lay out criteria for third-party organizations to get approval to operate within the state;
  • These third-party organizations may have the power to sanction pro combative sports, including MMA events;
  • The Commission will have jurisdiction (and licensing ability) over gyms that provide sparring in preparation for pro boxing or pro MMA bouts;
  • Accident insurance for a minimum of $50,000 is required by all pro combative sports promoters, with a million dollar insurance minimum for competition injuries resulting in major brain injuries; and,
  • All combative sporting events, pro or amateur, will pay an 8.5% tax on gate and a 3% tax on broadcasting rights sold (this includes Internet broadcasts).
Also included in the bill are an expansion in personnel for the Commission, a requirement that doctors be present at all combative sporting events, and other nuts and bolts-type stuff.

There are a few takeaways worth noting with this new bill. First, the grassroots effort to save amateur MMA from the death the previous version of the bill promised worked. Really, it did. 

Second, the insurance requirement is going to make it extremely cost-prohibitive for smaller pro MMA promotions to do shows in the state. Sure, the UFC and Bellator will be able to afford it, but it's going to be tough for the Ring of Combats and Cage Fury Fighting Championships of the world to take on that risk. 

Lastly, it can no longer be said that the folks up in Albany don't care about combative sports. This piece of legislature takes into account a wealth of safety concerns, as well as the health and well-being of an entire industry. If this thing passes, there will be no more statutory monopoly by any third-party sanctioning organizations, there will be no loophole for unsanctioned shows to go on, and there will be plenty of room for amateur MMA to thrive.

This bill might do it, folks.

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