Mass. Legislature Happy Hour Report due in January

Liquor LicenseHappy Hour report due in January

The 2011-2012 Annual Report of the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) indicates that the agency’s Happy Hour law study commissioned by the Massachusetts Legislature in the 2011 gaming (casino) act should be completed by January 31, 2013 (Legislation requires it be submitted by June 30th, 2013).  The casino bill allowed for the serving of free drinks to gamblers at casino and called for the ABCC study to determine whether the practice of free drinks at the proposed casinos would be unfair to Massachusetts restaurants and bars.

Currently restaurants can sell food at discounted prices, though they cannot require alcohol purchases to get the discounts.  Commonwealth Magazine reported on reasoning behind the ABCC study.

The idea of rekindling happy hour in Massachusetts drinking establishments was raised by Hedlund, who owns Four Square Restaurant and Bar, but said he would not want to offer drink specials there even if the regulations changed.   Hedlund and Sen. James Timilty (D-Walpole) had originally proposed an amendment that would override the ABCC’s ban, but in the face of resistance from the House, they opted for the ABCC to study the issue instead.

The ABCC held several public hearings on the state’s Happy Hour regulations late last spring and during the summer.  The participation was strong and many restaurant/bar owners spoke out against bringing back Happy Hour for alcoholic beverages in Massachusetts.  Currently restaurants can sell food at discounted prices, though cannot require alcohol purchases to get the discounts.  Commonwealth Magazine reported on the Boston hearing in August.

It’s interesting to note that when the regulations were first put into effect in 1985, most license-holders were happy to have them put into place because it leveled the playing field and helped increase profits and decrease problems caused by over-served patrons.

How do you feel about changing provisions of the heavily debated Mass. Happy Hour liquor regulations?

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