Oklahoma back in the MMA business

April, 2, 2012
4/02/12
5:08
AM ET
Gross By Josh Gross
ESPN.com
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Several weeks ago, the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission sent out a letter notifying licensees that the state was in peril of shutting the regulator's doors after March 31.

That budding crisis appears to be averted and the regulatory body will be open for business starting today, according to the commission’s administrator, Joe Miller.

The issue stems from a threatened lawsuit by the UFC over a 4 percent tax Oklahoma collects on all pay-per-views purchased by residences of the state. Events can emanate from Tokyo, but if someone in Tulsa is buying, then the promoter must pay a tax to the state. This applies to all promoters, boxing and MMA, and Miller said fees collected from this tax currently account for two-thirds of the athletic commission’s budget. Without it, he said, keeping operations going would be very difficult.

Zuffa, the largest provider of pay-per-view content in the world, is essentially the only MMA promoter that pays into the Oklahoma tax.

Marc Ratner, UFC’s head of regulatory affairs, said it boiled down to a legal matter. Ratner compared the matter in Oklahoma to a similar one Florida faced. A 5 percent pay-per-view tax was eventually wiped from the Sunshine State's books.

The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office is currently determining the constitutionality of the pay-per-view law, Miller said.

“Once he has completed his research, we will finalize our request for a change in the current language of our statute,” Miller said.

In essence, Oklahoma must secure a revenue stream that doesn’t rely on “double taxation,” Ratner said, which the pending legislation apparently provides for.

“We will be open for business on April [2],” Miller said. “A legislative solution to the problem is under way, and should be solidified by the end of April.”

Miller is accepting permit applications again.

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