Now that BC has a framework in place for both professional and amateur MMA what happens if an unlicensed event is held? What penalties can be imposed?
There are different options depending on whether the event is amateur or professional.
If an illegal amateur MMA event is hosted (ie – one that does not have the blessing of BC’s Athletic Commissioner) then there is only one option for punishment; a prosecution under section 83 of the Criminal Code for hosting an illegal prizefight. This section creates a summary offence. While this is less serious than an indictable offence conviction still comes with a criminal record, a fine of up to $5,000 and jail time of up to 6 months. Dave Maedel, BC’s Athletic Commissioner, confirms that “any illegal amateur contests would be prosecuted under the Criminal Code of Canada“.
If an illegal pro MMA event is held in BC the above punishment is still an option. In addition to this, BC’s Athletic Commissioner Act creates a host of offences which can be punished by fines, imprisonment and other administrative penalties. Here are the details:
Section 37 of the ACA makes it an offence to contravene any of the following sections of the statute:
- Section 9 (a), (b), (c), or (d) – promoting or participating in event without a licence
- Section 12 – complying with the terms and conditions imposed by the licence
- Section 13 – hosting an event without an event permit
- Section 17 – paying 5% of gross gate receipts to the Commissioner
- Section 18 – complying with the terms and conditions imposed by an event permit
- Section 37 (4) – supplying false or misleading information and other obstructive acts
If a person violates any of these sections in the context of a “professional contest” then they are exposed to prosecution for a provincial offence. Section 38 of the ACC imposes some hefty penalties on conviction including
- fines for an individual of up to $10,000
- imprisonment for up to 12 months
- fines for a corporation of up to $100,000
- Potential increased fines of up to “3 times the court’s estimation of the amount of monetary benefit acquired or accrued as a result of the commission of the offence“
In addition to all of the above the Athletic Commissioner may impose an administrative penalty to anyone who violates “a prescribe provision of the Athletic Commissioner Act or a term or condition of a licence or event permit”.
These potential penalties are up to $10,000 for individuals, $100,000 for corporations with a ceiling of 25% of gross gate receipts for an event.
Now that the sport is regulated within BC’s borders the bottom line is hosting an unlawful event does not pay. As can be seen from the above, the regulatory framework has been designed with real teeth imposing steep fines for anyone illegally dabbling in the MMA business not to mention the potential of a criminal conviction as well.