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Combative Sports Law

New York Enacts Combative Sports Law


If you are in the business of organizing combative sports in the state of New York, there are new rules that you need to consider.


Senate Bill 5949 is a big move for combative sports in the state. The new legislation establishes the legal framework for these sports in New York and also officially legalizes mixed martial arts events. The bill will enter into force as of September 2016.


In practical terms, it brings changes in the licensing process for combative sports organizers, as well as for promoters of professional wrestling matches. In both cases, you will need to post a surety bond – either a sports permit bond or a sports promoter bond, in order to operate in legal compliance.

Let’s take a closer look at the Bill and what it means for combative sports organizers in New York.

The changes that the bill brings

As said, the most important innovation that the new bill brings is the legalization of mixed martial arts (MMA) events in New York, which are now defined as authorized combative sports. This is the last state to legalize MMA.


According to the newly enacted law, combative sports organizers will have to get licensed with the New York State Athletic Commission. This is the body that oversees combative sports including MMA, single-discipline martial arts, professional wrestling, sparring and kickboxing, as well as amateur and professional boxing. The license gives them legal right to organize and conduct matches.


In order to receive their license, organizers will be required to post two types of surety bonds in amounts determined by the Commission. The first sports permit bond aims to guarantee their compliance with relevant laws. The additional bond secures that organizers will pay all due participants’ purses, salaries of club employees and printing and advertising costs.


Professional wrestling promoters will also need to meet new requirements according to the Bill. They will now have to post a minimum $20,000 sports promoter surety bond. Its purpose is to guarantee the promoter will pay wrestlers’ purses, club employees’ salaries, printing and advertising costs, payments to sponsoring organizations, as well as all due state and local taxes.


Besides the licensing and bonding requirements, the Bill brings stricter medical rules for professional participants. They will have to obtain clearance from a physician before matches. Match promoters will have to obtain accident insurance to secure any medical help that might be required for competitors.

What does the new law mean for combative sport organizers?


The legalization of MMA in New York has certainly been anticipated by combative sport organizers in the state.


The long-awaited legislative change opens new opportunities for conducting new events, which means projected gains for both match conductors and the hosting state. The Ultimate Fighting Championship has already promised four major events per year after the signing of the Bill.


Besides this new economic venues, the new law also brings regulation to the field. The clear rules for licensing and bonding for combative sports organizers and professional wrestling promoters are there to protect participants and organizers’ employees from any fraudulent activities on the side of match conductors.


While obtaining surety bonds will incur some costs for the organizers, all professionals in the field are likely to benefit from the new regulation, as it creates the necessary framework for safety and security.


Last but not least, the legal requirements for medical checkups for sport competitors are certainly good news, as they set the ground for safer combative sports events.


How do you think the new bill will change the combative sports field in the state of New York? Do you think its provisions are sufficient and effective? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.


todd-bryantTodd Bryant is the president and founder of Bryant Surety Bonds. He is a surety bonds expert with years of experience in helping business owners get bonded and start their business.

Inside Combative Sports Law