Show a fight without permission, you gonna get sued
So far this year, at least three different St. Louis watering holes have been sued in federal court for allegedly showing pay-per-view MMA
fights they never purchased.
The three bars are O'Malley's Irish Pub
(on Cherokee Street), Indigo Joe's Sports Pub
(in Wildwood) and Upper Deck Sports Bar
(in Green Park). Local attorney Vincent D. Vogler
has filed the claims on behalf of Joe Hand Promotions
, which is based in Pennsylvania.
Vogler says some bars figure out a way to intercept the satellite feed
carrying the fights. To catch the cheaters, "spotters" (or private
investigators) go around to sports bars, take photos of the event on the
screen, take a head count, and find out how much the bar is charging at
the door. If it turns out the bar didn't pay to show the event, the
promotion company will file a lawsuit.
"It's just like robbing a
bank," Vogler says, "but instead of walking in the front door to rob
the bank, they go in the back door: They steal the satellite feed, show
the fight and make money off it."
The owner of O'Malley's, Tommy Gage
, says his bar has never shown a fight. He believes his tenants who live above the bar might have something to do with it, because they and the bar share the same address.
Calls for comment to the other two taverns were not immediately returned.
The incidents in question
weren't that recent: O'Malley's is being accused of wrongdoing back in
2009, while the other two bars are accused of thievery last year. Vogler says
his client typically tries to settle the matter out of court, and only
files the complaint when negotiations break down.
Vogler adds that in some cases, the problem is that a bar will purchase the
fight legitimately, but do so as a home residence, when in fact the bar
is a business.