Mixed Martial Arts: ‘Barbaric’ but Maybe Lucrative for New York

ALBANY—Assemblyman Michael Benjamin has an idea to help the state through its $2.1 billion midyear deficit: resurrect the mixed martial arts bill.

"It's a barbaric sport," Benjamin, who had opposed the bill, told me by phone. "If we're stuck with these awful deficits, then I think we can use some of those revenues for our tax problems. If it's a choice between that and reducing funding to a vital health care program or educating our children, I would go for legalizing mixed martial arts and taxing the tickets. The bill is there."

The bill cleared an Assembly committee this spring, but it was not acted on before the session ended in late June. The State Senate never got around to taking up the measure.

Proponents estimate the bill could bring millions in revenue.