New York has taken a step closer to regulating mixed martial arts and repealing a ban on the sport that was imposed across the state 13 years ago. The New York State Senate yesterday approved most of a budget proposal put forward by Governor Paterson and budget director Robert Megna.
The budget proposal included provisions to change state legislation and “authorize the conduct and regulation of professional mixed martial arts sporting events in New York State” with the New York State Athletic Commission being empowered to license fighters and promoters “to ensure the safety and integrity of the sport.”
But of more interest to New York legislators is probably the part which states “The bill would also make provision for the State to tax gross receipts from ticket sales and broadcasting rights related to professional MMA events held in the State.”
In fact, Governor Paterson’s budget proposal expressly relies on MMA being regulated in the state before the end of 2010. A memorandum issued by his office in support of the proposed MMA regulations states that “the State Financial Plan assumes $1.37 million in recurring net revenues resulting from the authorization of professional mixed martial arts sporting events in New York.”
That money will be generated by provisions of the bill which allow for “a State tax of 8.5 percent on gross receipts from MMA event ticket sales and a tax on broadcasting rights equal to the lesser of 3 percent of the contract value or $50,000.”
The state of New York is currently experiencing economic problems and yesterday’s state Senate hearing was largely concerned with cuts in public spending. Governor Paterson has proposed the reduction of spending in key areas such as education. The state faces a budget deficit of $9 billion and Paterson wants to cut school funding by $1.4 billion.
State spending on healthcare is also subject to a (proposed) $1 billion cut in funding. Predictably, education and healthcare unions are not happy about the proposed cuts and yet there is little talk of protest or industrial action, a strong indication that everybody knows drastic cuts are necessary for the state’s ailing economy.
The Department of State represents the next hurdle as they must approve the Senate’s proposals to allow the regulation of mixed martial arts across New York. But in light of the parlous condition of the state’s finances it is unlikely in the extreme they would turn down the revenue MMA can generate, making it almost certain that the UFC and other MMA promotions will be having a bite of the Big Apple late this year or early 2011.