by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
With the growth of MMA all over the world, particularly in the United States, rules and regulations to increase the safety of the fighters has been a big subject seeing the sport licensed in many new states. House Bill 1866 in Hawaii has just been passed and enacted as law and now the state has mandatory rules in place for the first time to ensure that these very things happen with each sanctioned event in the state.

Previous to this law, the state had very loose rules regarding MMA in the state. According to Patrick Freitas, who along with T. Jay Thompson both of ICON sport who spearheaded the efforts to get the law enacted, advised MMAWeekly that MMA is regulated by the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), Regulated Industries Complaints Office (RICO) which handles all licensing and permitting within the state.

The department, prior to the enactment of the new law, required promoters to provide basic medical info about the fighters (like last date of physical), the doctors and the referees who will be in place for the event. Also the promoters are required to provide a $500 fee to the department which covers the application and they must submit event registration information (time, date, place of event and weigh in, bouts, fighters contact info, etc) no less than 30 days prior to the event.

The new law, which will become effective July 1st 2009, has many new points to give the department more oversight into the promotions running in Hawaii and much of this goes into the safety and security of the fighters involved.

Included in the new rules for the state of Hawaii will be the following:
* mandatory neurological testing of athletes
* disease and drug testing of athletes
* defining formal “rules” of MMA, including length of fights and rounds.
* criminal and financial background checks
* proof of medical insurance for fighters
* certified payment for athletes
* licensing of fighters & collection of fighter license fees 2 times per year.

Also as part of the new law, a new legislation of fees will be enacted for the promotions who wish to run shows in Hawaii and work along with the department in these new rules (previously they only paid the afore mentioned $500 licensing fee). The fees are as follows:

* 3% of first $50,000 gross ticket sales
* 2% of all gross ticket sales over $50,000
* 2% of all receipts from television broadcasting, internet, DVD sales, etc.

These new rules will start to ensure more safety for the fighters and obviously put much of the responsibility on the department running the regulations for the shows and the promoters to make sure to follow the new set of rules enacted.

The law does allow for unregulated MMA events that may occur within the State of Hawaii, if they are classified as a “recreational activity” under the control of the armed forces, national guard, or Police Activities League.

As previously stated, the law will become enforced and enacted as of July 1st, 2009.