ALBANY, N.Y., March 7 (UPI) -- A bill legalizing professional mixed martial arts was approved by the New York state Senate, and goes to the Assembly, which has rejected the idea in the past.
The measure passed in the Senate Wednesday by a 47-14 vote, which crossed party lines, The (Albany) Times Union reported Thursday.
Debate on the bill Wednesday was spirited, adherents pointing out the sport, well-run on the professional level, would bring millions of dollars in revenue.
Sen. Brad Hoylman called the sport "the human equivalent of hydrofracking" and Sen. Liz Krueger asked the bill's Republican sponsor, Sen. Joe Griffo, about the various legal holds and punches in the sport, saying mixed martial arts' "clear message is a message of violence."
The sport is legal in 48 states, the New York Daily News noted. It was banned in New York State in 1997.
The legislation puts MMA under the direction of the State Athletic Commission and creates an 8.5 percent tax on ticket sales and a 3 percent tax on gross receipts from broadcasting rights, the Times-Union said.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver predicted Wednesday the sport will eventually be legalized.
"At some point there will probably be approval in this state. I can't tell you when," he said, adding, "We're not going to wall off our children from seeing this" and noting the sport is available on television and in nearby states.