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12.2011

Massachusetts Beverage Business

archivedAtPressTime

WILL HAPPY HOUR MAKE BARS HAPPY?

It’s been a quarter of a century since Massachusetts last had happy hours at its bars but that could soon be coming to an end. In October, the Massachusetts State Senate passed an amendment to the controversial casino bill that would allow state bars and restaurants to feature happy hour alcoholic drinks. The bill outlines the creation of three casinos and a slot machine parlor, and would explicitly permit these establishments to provide free or discounted drinks to patrons. Of course, that would be perceived as unfair to other establishments that serve alcohol so, under the amendment which passed in the Senate 25 to 13, bars and restaurants would be permitted to do the same. The bill would also create a Gaming Commission that has the power to set limits on the distribution of discounted and free drinks at all establishments. But don’t belly up to the bar for “2 for 1” night just yet. The House of Representatives and the Senate have several differences to resolve before the casino bill can go to Governor Patrick. Massachusetts first outlawed happy hour discounts in 1984 during a spike in drunk driving accidents and that issue is certainly not going to disappear. Additionally, promoting free alcohol in a state filled with colleges could be the source of many headaches for both law enforcement and bar owners alike.

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