With the intent to effectively regulate pro wrestling, MMA, and boxing, the Regulated Industries Committee has revised Georgia state Senate bill 413 to include a separate section strictly related to pro wrestling.
This important change was based on the recommendation from pro wrestling representatives at last month’s hearing in Atlanta, and last Wednesday when representatives met with the Secretary of State’s office and the Regulated Industries Committee.
One of the key revisions to the Senate bill that has not been made official yet, is the removal of taxation for pro wrestling organizations. The originally proposed regulations included a provision for an effective tax of 5 percent of ticket revenue for organizations running a show in Georgia.
The final revision to the Senate bill is expected to be completed this week prior to a decision on the Senate floor on whether to pass the proposed regulations. If the Senate passes the bill, the Georgia Athletic Commission will be in charge of carrying out the regulations outlined in the bill.
The new "pro wrestling" section in the bill contains some of the original proposals for regulation, as well as revised items based on the 12-point outline provided by pro wrestling representatives to the Committee.
Promoters and wrestlers would still be required to apply for a license to promote and perform in Georgia. Promoter fee is non-refundable $100. Wrestler fee is non-refundable $20. To promote a show after acquiring a license, a promoter must then file a $1,000 surety bond with the Commission to run shows in the state.
For pro wrestlers, the minimum age requirement is proposed at 18 years old. All wrestlers would be required to file an original copy of a blood test taken within 180 days that indicates the wrestler is "free from Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, or any other communicable disease".
The Commission will have at least one designated "officer" at pro wrestling events to ensure the proposed rules and regulations and carried out. These persons would have access to all areas of the backstage area.
The proposed bill contains vague language related to performing under the influence of drugs, and use of anabolic steroids. The current bill contains the following related items:
"No professional wrestler shall perform while impaired by drugs or alcohol. If there is
reason to suspect that a wrestler is impaired or under the influence of a prohibited drug or foreign substance, the wrestler may be tested by the commission.
"The use of anabolic steroids by a professional wrestler is prohibited unless prescribed by a doctor for a specific medical condition."
The language is expected to be clarified prior to the final revision to clearly establish when the Commission officer(s) can check a wrestler or demand a drug test if there is suspicion of a violation of the regulations, especially related to use of anabolic steroids.
Other proposed regulations related to the in-ring performance include: security must be present ringside, there must be a separation barrier between fans and the ring, ring mats must be cleaned and disinfected "after each match, context, or exhibition", glass and fire are prohibited, and illegal drugs and alcohol are disallowed from the backstage area.
A wrestler may have his license suspended if the person tests positive for a communicable disease through transfer of blood or if the person tests positive for a prohibited drug.
The revised bill strikes the Commission’s ability to regulate the "performance" aspect of the wrestling product through the scripting of the show. The bill identifies: "The commission shall not have any jurisdiction to control, direct, or regulate the manner in which the professional wrestling match, contest, or exhibition is conducted, including the conduct or dress of the professional wrestlers while engaged in the match, contest, or exhibition."