Mass Liquor License Quota & Categories 101

Massachusetts Liquor License Quotas and CategoriesThe Liquor License Quota system & Categories in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Liquor Control Act places a quota or limit on the number of alcoholic beverages licenses a city or town can issue. The quota is based on the population of the community as determined by the most recent federal census of 2010.  The following is an explanation of the specific quota categories, via the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

On-Premises License (M.G.L. c. 138, §12)
Each city or town may grant one on-premises all alcoholic license for each unit of 1,000 persons (or fraction thereof) with a minimum of 14. An additional all-alcoholic beverages license may be granted for each population unit of 10,000 (or fraction thereof) over the first 25,000. One wine and malt license may be granted for each unit of 5,000 persons (or fraction thereof) with a minimum of 5.

Veteran’s Club License
The local licensing authority may grant an all-alcoholic beverages license, outside the quota system, subject to ABCC approval, to any corporation whose members are war veterans which owns, hires or leases a building, or space in a building, for the use and accommodation of a post of any war veterans’ organization incorporated by the Congress of the United States, to sell to members of that post only, and, subject to local licensing authorities, to guests introduced by such members and to no others.

Off-Premises (M.G.L. c. 138, §15)
Each city or town may issue one off-premises (Section 15) all-alcoholic beverages license for each unit of 5,000 persons (or fraction thereof) with a minimum of 2. One wine and malt license may be granted for each unit of 5,000 persons (or fraction thereof) with a minimum of 5.

Seasonal Licenses
The LLA may issue as many seasonal on-premises alcoholic beverages licenses as it deems to be in the public interest that are effective April 1st to January 15th or any portion thereof.   The LLA may issue a limited number of seasonal off-premises alcoholic beverages licenses based on an estimate of the temporary increase in resident population for the upcoming season as of July 10th. The LLA must set the estimate before March 1st of the calendar year, at a special meeting described in detail by M.G.L. c. 138, §17. The LLA must submit the estimate to the Commission prior to April 1st.

The LLA may issue off-premises seasonal licenses based on that estimate at the rate of one license for each 5,000 persons (or fraction thereof) and can be issued effective April 1st to November 30th until January 15th, or any portion thereof, as set by the LLA. Franklin and Berkshire counties may issue winter seasonal licenses and estimate before October 15th the temporary increased resident population as of the following February 10th. Such licenses are effective from December 1st to April 1st.

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