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Eddie Goldman on NY MMA & UFC legislation opposition: It’s the gambling & casino connections, stupid

By Zach Arnold | June 10, 2011

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Follow on Twitter for NY MMA Legislation news: Justin Klein | Eddie Goldman | Josh Gross

If you haven’t already done so, read this Bloody Elbow article on Sheldon Silver and why things have stalled.

From Eddie’s radio show this morning.

“There’s another issue that’s going on that a lot of people in the so-called ‘MMA media’ don’t really want to discuss, which is why there is opposition to MMA coming in and I’ve discussed the cultural issue before, I’ve discussed in years past that there was opposition from boxing promoters but not so much any more. One of the key issues is the opposition that a lot of people have, particularly now with the growing strength of the UFC and the near-monopoly, a virtual monopoly among major fighters and championship-level fighters, is the fact that Zuffa, which owns UFC & Strikeforce, is controlled by a Las Vegas gambling casino family with a very questionable past and certainly is well-known as being an anti-union organization. Just go to workerstation.org and look what’s happening with the National Labor Relations Board case against Stations Casino.

“The view in New York to gambling casino people was summed up in the rules that exist concerning boxing & pro-wrestling in the state of New York, that also is still regulated under the law, and there’s still a section on the books and it sounds like 1920s language when these things were originally written that talks about and I’ll paraphrase some of it, ‘The Commission may suspend or revoke a license or refuse to renew or issue a license if’ and it gives a bunch of different issues such as if they’re convicted of a crime and so forth ‘or is consorting or associating with or has consorted or associated with bookmakers, gamblers, or persons of similar pursuits or has himself engaged in similar pursuits.’ This wording, of course, was written long before you had legal casinos and legal sports books in places like Las Vegas and legal casinos in Atlantic City and now seems just about all over the place. But it shows the attitude to gamblers. They’re basically viewed on New York as being one cut above criminals. In other words, they may legalize that activity in Las Vegas but doesn’t mean that they’re not deplorable and unethical people in the minds of many people in New York and, given the history of the Fertittas, that’s not helping them.

“I’d really like to see this issue discussed a lot more rather than what a union of workers who are struggling to survive, who have had their health care & benefits cut and 401k cut and all of that while working for these different gambling casinos in Las Vegas, I’d like to see this discussed more but, again, we know we’re not going to see very much from our so-called ‘MMA media.’ And, again, you can search out these rules & regulations for boxing & wrestling in the state of New York and this is part of a very long handbook that’s put out, The 2010 Athletic Law Book was put out and you can find that information and search that out for yourself.

“So, that’s the attitude. To me, that’s much more of a real issue. Now what’s going to happen regarding Mixed Martial Arts in the state of New York? Well, I think the chances are well under 50% that it’s going to get through this year. But I think you’re going to see some very interesting things happening if, once again, MMA does not get through in New York. What I think it’s going to lead to is a real stepping up of the campaign to legalize Mixed Martial Arts. If it doesn’t get in in 2011, it will get in in 2012 which is an election year both on the local level and, of course, on the national & president level as well.

“So, there’s a lot that still has to be done on these different issues to make sure that Mixed Martial Arts fits in with the New York culture, which right now it really doesn’t and has really hurt it.”

The 2010 Athletic Law Book is 49 pages long. Here is the section of the book that Eddie is referring to:

(b) Without otherwise limiting the discretion of the commission as provided in this act, the commission may suspend or revoke a license or refuse to renew or issue a license, if it shall find that the applicant, or any person who is a partner, agent, employee, stockholder or associate of the applicant, has been convicted of a crime in any jurisdiction, or is associating or consorting with any person who has or persons who have been convicted of a crime or crimes in any jurisdiction or jurisdictions, or is consorting or associating with or has consorted or associated with bookmakers, gamblers or persons of similar pursuits, or has himself engaged in similar pursuits, or is financially irresponsible, or has been guilty of or attempted any fraud or misrepresentation in connection with boxing, or has violated or attempted to violate any law with respect to boxing in any jurisdiction or any rule, regulation or order of the commission, or shall have violated any rule of boxing which shall have been approved or adopted by the commission, or has been guilty of or engaged in similar, related or like practices.

Dana White is not feeling so confident right now.

“I’m never confident about New York. Obviously, this run was a little bit better. We got more support than we’ve had the last time, so we’ll see. Whatever happens happens.

“It’s nothing new. We’ve been doing this for almost 11 years now in a lot of different places and, yeah, we’re just going to have to keep working on it. I know the Union was there battling us the day that we, literally in the halls that day battling us, the day that we did it and we still had a great vote, you know. And then we got through the Tourism (committee) and lt’s see what happens. Everytime we go, we gain more momentum.”

In regards to Sheldon Silver not wanting to put the legislation bill up for a vote and tabling it: “I mean, I don’t find it weird at all. How do you find it? I mean, everybody knows what’s going, we’re not… none of us are blind. Whatever, we’re not going away, we’re not going anywhere. We’re going to keep going, we’re going to keep working and working it and working it until we get in there.”

Would UFC having a network TV deal help apply the needed political pressure to get legislation passed in NY?

“No. I mean, look how popular we are now. How about we were, you know, what is it, I don’t know the mileagle but a few hundred miles maybe away from New York when we just put on that huge (Newark) show? And as we keep talkinga bout the problems that New York faces, not just in New York City but in Buffalo & Syracuse and some of these other small towns where events would be big for them… it’s just, it’s New York politics, man. It’s New York politics.

“I think if we were on… NBC… at 9 o’clock at night and pulled 200 million, you know, 200 million viewers watched, I’d still think we’d be dealing with New York politics.”

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 24 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

24 Responses to “Eddie Goldman on NY MMA & UFC legislation opposition: It’s the gambling & casino connections, stupid”

  1. jack says:

    Write NY State Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver a note expressing your displeasure with his refusal to let the MMA Bill go to a vote in the NY Assembly:

    http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=064&sh=contact

  2. Steve4192 says:

    “I’d like to see this discussed more but, again, we know we’re not going to see very much from our so-called ‘MMA media”

    I don’t understand what Eddie is asking for. What does he want to see discussed more? The ethics of legalized gambling in Nevada? The legality of casino owners diversifying into other businesses? The legality of New York targeting non-casino businesses owned by people in the gambling industry? I don’t get it. If the issue really is that New York politicians despise the gambling business and are willing to blackball any company that has ties to legal gambling, how does he propose the MMA media report on that?

    IMO, this is a non-issue because there is absolutely no way for Zuffa to address it. The Fertitta’s ARE casino moguls. If New York politicians have a problem with casino owners, then nothing short of them selling the company will satisfy those politicians. As much as Eddie would love to see that, there is no way in hell it is going to happen.

    • Tomer says:

      Pretty certain the Walker Law put in the gambling affiliation section because of the numerous tank jobs that happened in the early days of Boxing in New York (most infamously Charles ‘Kid’ McCoy vs. ‘Gentleman’ Jim Corbett) as well as Pro Wrestling where guys did dives/works in order to win nice side bets.

      • Tomer says:

        Also because of the stink of Boxers like Abe Attell working for gangsters like Arnold Rothstein in scandals like the Black Sox scandal. And to be fair, they were right about that (see the International Boxing Club with Frankie Carbo (James D. Norris, the owner of the Blackhawks was the on-record owner of the organization and was an executive in the Red Wings before that, which was owned by his father) in the 1940s and 1950s).

    • nottheface says:

      I think he’s also ranting about the fact that no one wants to discuss how “seedy” the Fertittas truly are: running casinos and busting unions. This being MMA, I don’t see how it is a big deal. For Pete’s sake the Japanese promotions are completely beholden to the Yakuza and M-1 is owned by a 2nd generation billionaire Russian oligarchy mobster. Sure Zuffa is seedy, but I would argue being seedy is almost a prerequisite.

      • Steve4192 says:

        Exactly.

        Eddie is not interested in furthering the legalization of MMA in NY. He just wants to use the issue to pursue his vendetta against the Fertitta brothers. His hatred for all things Zuffa is palpable.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Eddie with an agenda? No way!!

        • nottheface says:

          While I also think Eddie is motivated by his dislike for Zuffa I will say I do agree with him that they are not helping the NY legislation process and that it would be best if they stayed out of it.

        • Steve4192 says:

          “I do agree with him that they are not helping the NY legislation process and that it would be best if they stayed out of it.”

          Are you kidding?

          You really don’t think that Zuffa greasing politicians, paying millions to lobbying firms, arranging media coverage of the issue, and commissioning economic studies has helped move the legalization of MMA in New York forward? Not to mention all the work they have done getting it approved elsewhere, which has lent legitimacy to the New York efforts.

          The grass roots legalization effort never made any headway until Zuffa started throwing their money and influence around. Nearly every politician that has come out in favor of MMA in New York has used the economic argument as the major reason they are behind it. Without Zuffa, the economic argument does not exist.

          That is just crazy talk.

        • nottheface says:

          Really? You don’t think the linking of MMA with the Fertittas and their troubles with the station casino unions hasn’t hurt them? You don’t think other pro legalization activist don’t want Zuffa to retreat into the shadows to keep it from becoming a mma vs unions story? Especially in a state with the highest union membership in the country. That does’t seem to be the opinion of Stephen Koepfer
          http://nymmanow.blogspot.com/2011/05/zuffas-union-blues-and-new-york-mma.html
          Eddie Goldman, and others who live in NY and are pushing for NY sanctioning.

        • Steve4192 says:

          If Zuffa pulled all their money out of New York right now and said “screw New York, we’ll keep running shows in Jersey, Philly & Toronto”, there is no way in hell MMA in New York ever passes. The ONLY reason it has made it this far is economics, and Zuffa is the engine behind that economic argument.

          Koepfer might not like how Zuffa is going about things, but I’ll guarantee you he doesn’t want them to abandon the New York market. New York MMA is dead in the water without the promise of economic gain. Claiming Zuffa should have no voice in a process which is ENTIRELY predicated on their presence in the market is ludicrous.

        • nottheface says:

          I was going to rebuttal but then I reread my post – oh, shit. When I stated they “aren’t helping and should stay out” I didn’t mean for it to be an absolute. I mean they are proving to be too much of a distraction. I wrote a fanpost at BE that pretty much laid out my thoughts:
          http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2011/5/19/2176475/whats-keeping-mma-out-of-new-york-is-it-the-union-going-after-the-ufc#storyjump

        • Steve4192 says:

          They have become a liability and the longer they remain active the more it will be about them and unions. But they can help by throwing support behind a local proponent (may I recommend Stephan Koepfer, Founder of The Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York) and then retreating into the background.”

          Would that REALLY help?

          If the problem really is with the nature of the Fertitta’s other business, slinking into the shadows is not going to change things. Whether Zuffa is out front or in the background, everyone knows that 500 pound gorilla in the MMA business is owned by a couple of casino moguls.

          If anything, at this late juncture, Zuffa backing away will call into question their continued commitment to the New York market. If they go from full-court-press to silent-as-a-church-mouse, a lot of those politicians supporting MMA now are going to start to question whether those economic benefits will ever materialize. Zuffa suddenly going dark is not going to fill those politicians with confidence.

          Like it or not, for better or for worse, if MMA in New York is going to pass, the dominant leader in the industry HAS to be front and center.

        • nottheface says:

          Is $23 million and 213 temporary jobs (or 1/40,0000 of the total economic activity in the state and a a 0.025%.reduction in the NY unemployment rate) really that strong of arguments for legalization? Would you want to match that up against antagonizing unions in the strongest pro union state in the US? Right now it might be too late, but if it doesn’t pass Zuffa should reconsider their position.

        • Steve4192 says:

          $23 million is nothing when viewed compared to the overall size of the New York budget. But at this this point, the $23 million isn’t the issue. It has become a symbol. A symbol that lawmakers are not doing everything in their power bring revenue to the cash-strapped state.

          In the grand scheme of things, $23 million isn’t even a drop in the bucket, but in the mind of an individual voter, $23 million is a lot of money. To a woman making minimum wage cleaning bathrooms, $23 million helps to pay for her kids school getting new books. To a guy working the beat as a cop, $23 million helps get him time-and-a-half working overtime. $23 million isn’t important to big brother, but it is very important to the people who put big brother in office.

          No politician wants to be accused of pissing away jobs and money, even if they don’t amount to s hill of beans. That is why every single politician who has gone on record in favor of legalizing MMA has mentioned tax revenue as one of their primary reasons for backing it.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    Off topic… But still something worth discussing….

    I was thinking about the 5 round main event change. While I think it’s a step in the right direction, I don’t think it’s perfect.

    A fight shouldn’t be 5 rounds just because it is a main event. So Lytle/Hardy is going to be 5 rounds because it is the main event of a Fight Night…. Yet if it was on a PPV, it wouldn’t be the main event and would be 3 rounds.

    Logically, that makes little to no sense.

    5 round fights should be based on the QUALITY of the fighters involved. Here would be a simple solution….

    1) Have the UFC publish rankings. The Champion and then the Top 5 contenders underneith.

    2) If any of those Top 5 contenders are in a fight, whether against each other or against an unranked opponent, the fight shouldbe 5 rounds.

    To me that makes more logical sense. Now, I know that won’t happen anytime soon, but I think eventually we will see something in that direction happen.

    People will start to see quality undercard fights on the PPV’s and start to question why it’s not getting 5 rounds when a regular “Fight Night” card is. Or a #1 contender fight still being 3 rounds because it’s on a PPV with a title fight.

    I think eventually those questions are going to be asked by the fans and a slight change will have to occur.

    Like I said, the addition of more 5 round fights is a step in the right direction. I just don’t think it’s the final step that the sport will eventually take.

    • mr. roadblock says:

      I agree with the idea of not all main events being 5 rounds. I’d say just PPV and maybe a bit Spike/Versus fight if it is warranted.

      I certainly didn’t need 2 more rounds of Clay Guida vs Anthony Pettis.

      UFC doesn’t do as many loaded but sometimes a co-main event on a PPV is worth of 5 rounds. For example I’d have loved Chuck Liddell vs Wanderlei Silva to have two more rounds in it.

      I think UFC should use the 5 round non-title fight where it is warranted. Whether that fight is the main event or co-main event.

      • edub says:

        I think we definitely needed two more rounds of Guida vs. Pettis. It was boring, but the fight was just getting started. I don’t think either was even breathing heavy at the end.

  4. Eddie’s right about the MMA media. Zach is one of those guys who isn’t afraid to speak out about the scandals and dirty dealing behind the scenes, but he’s in the minority. Eddie’s been there since day one and long before Dana White ever got involved in MMA. If anyone knows about the real facts of the situation with the MMA media, it’s Eddie. To publish and promote the truth of how things really work and how Zuffa got to be on top (they bought their way there) you have to be willing to get blacklisted and work around their efforts to shut you out. In my case, you gotta be willing to get sued if that’s what it takes to get the truth out. Someday soon we may see that throwing money around and trying to intimidate folks isn’t going to work for the Zuffa brass anymore. This union deal is a small piece of the puzzle. Don’t drink the Kool Aid of the mainstream MMA media if you want the facts, though. Get it from the real reporters who know better and aren’t trying to suck up to the powers that be to get favorable treatment. Guys like Eddie Goldman and Zach Arnold give it to you straight, and they don’t toe the UFC company line.

    • Chris says:

      so dont listen to the mainstream mma media who kiss ass, listen to Eddie who has personal bias against the UFC?

      So dont listen to the ones who kiss the UFC’s ass listen to the ones who want to sink the UFC cause they hate them.

      I got it.

  5. Chris says:

    steve said it best, if the UFC backs off NY and basically says whatever mma will never be legal in NY, for mma to get into NY the UFC has to keep doing exactly what they are doing and eventually it will happen, if they back off and basically give up and say whatever mma will NEVER make it into NY and anyone who thinks different isnt very bright.

  6. RossenSearchTeam says:

    “…well-known as being an anti-union organization…”

    Lol @ anti-union.

    I mean thats probably true, but not the way its meant to sound.

    Isn’t the mob a union?

    Isn’t sheldon Silver and his law making cronies a union?

    Its more a matter of anti other unions (if thats even the case), which is the same way everything works.

  7. […] Eddie Goldman said last month that the reason MMA legislation has not passed in New York is because of who’s involved (the casinos). That’s one strike. Justin Klein, The Fight Lawyer, was on Josh Gross’s ESPN radio show last month to say that UFC’s financial argument is a laughably bad political strategy to use to try to persuade power brokers like Sheldon Silver to put the legislation on the Assembly floor for a vote. […]

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