Update June 9, 2015 – the Bill has been drastically overhauled from its original form addressing many of the below concerns. You can click here for details.
A lot of positive headlines are circulating in the Mixed Martial Arts community celebrating the likely imminent legalization of professional MMA in the State of New York.
The Devil’s in the details, however, and the proposed legislation has some interesting twists and turns.
Not only does the current wording of Bill S02159 potentially disrupt all amateur MMA in the State, it also seeks to cast a wide regulatory net over all MMA Gyms, Clubs and Training Camps.
The Bill proposes to give New York’s State Athletic Commission jurisdiction, and the ability to create “rules and regulations for licencing and regulation” of all New York “gyms, clubs, training camps and other organizations that maintain training facilities providing contact sparring for persons who prepare for participation in such professional combative sports or exhibitions“.
Professional Combative Sports Participants, who need to be licensed, also has a broad definition which includes anyone who “teaches or pursues or assists in the practice of mixed martial arts…(for) pecuniary gain“.
You’re only teaching amateurs who don’t get paid to compete? You’re likely still caught by this legislation because “professional combative sports” captures all events where an admission is charged, ie- most amateur events.
The legislation imposes a modest $50 annual licence fee for participants, no big deal right? Not necessarily as the licence can be yanked if the New York Athletic Commission deems the licence holder is “guilty of an act detrimental to the interests of combative sports generally or the the public interest, convenience or necessity“. Pretty broad powers to put someone out of business.
The Bill is not law yet and its not too late to bring suggested changes to lawmakers before it becomes law. The full Bill can be found here: New York State Bill S02159