It isn't often that a company asks the legislature to be regulated and taxed, but that's exactly what the promoters of mixed martial arts competitions are seeking.
MMA matches are not permitted in Connecticut, but state lawmakers are considering a bill that would sanction such contests, provided they are regulated and the ticket revenue is taxed.
State Sen. Joan Hartley, a Democrat from Waterbury who co-chairs the public safety committee, asked at a hearing Tuesday how MMA differed from the professional wrestling shows staged by the Connecticut-based World Wrestling Entertainment.
"We're not scripted entertainment,'' responded Marc Ratner, vice president of government and regulatory affairs for Ultimate Fighting Championships. "These are real fights.''
Hartley said she is open to the idea of sanctioning MMA matches, provided the regulatory requirements don't burden the state's budget.
Today mixed martial arts is regulated and recognized by many of the world's most prestigious sports regulatory bodies,'' Ratner said. "We hope that Connecticut will see fit to properly regulate the sport as well."
"This bill will put mixed martial arts on an equal footing with boxing, allowing the thousands of MMA fans in Connecticut the opportunity to watch their pastime without leaving the state,'' state Rep. Matthew Lesser told the legislature's public safety committee Tuesday afternoon. "In addition, it would generate economic activity and should be revenue positive.''
A 5 percent tax on MMA gate receipts would bolster the state's bottom line, Lesser said.
"It's not going to balance the state budget but it's something,'' said Lesser, a Democrat from Middletown who filed the bill on behalf of a constituent who is an MMA fan.
Ratner said he expects that Ultimate Fighting Championship would hold a large competition in Connecticut once every year to 16 months.
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