Mixed martial arts is currently not permitted in Connecticut. But the legislature is considering a bill that would sanction MMA matches -- provided they are regulated and the ticket revenue is taxed.
State Rep. Matthew Lesser, a Democrat from Middletown, has introduced Legislation that would open the door for Connecticut to join 46 other states that have legalized MMA, a sport that has moved from the edges to the mainstream in less than a decade.
The General Assembly's public safety committee is slated to hold a hearing on the bill Tuesday afternoon.
Lesser said he was spurred to raise the bill by a constituent who is an MMA fan.
"It doesn't seem to make sense to tell fans from Connecticut that they have to leave the state to watch it,'' he said during a brief interview Friday afternoon. MMA matches have been held at the state's casinos, but cannot be legally held elsewhere in Connecticut.
Lesser says MMA could also boost the state's bottom line. Taxes on MMA gate receipts could provide "a pretty significant economic boom,'' he said.
Massachusetts and Maine both recently legalized MMA, but New York is one of four states that has not. That provides an opportunity for Connecticut, given its proximity to the Empire State, Lesser said.
MMA's fan base overlaps with that of professional wrestling. Lesser said Connecticut-based World Wrestling Entertainment is lobbying against the MMA bill.
But WWE spokesman Robert Zimmerman said via email that the company is not opposed to "this or anything else the state wants to do with regards to sports or entertainment."
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