Location:
LIQUOR;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations; Other States laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report


September 10, 2012

 

2012-R-0370

ALCOHOL PERMIT RESTRICTIONS IN NEIGHBORING STATES

By: Duke Chen, Legislative Analyst II

You asked how certain Connecticut alcohol permit restrictions compare to neighboring states, specifically if there are restrictions (1) on the number of permits an on- or off-premises retailer may own and (2) based on population.

SUMMARY

Connecticut and its neighboring states (Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island) are all “license” states, which means retailers must apply for state permits before they may sell alcohol. These states have different permits for on- and off-premises alcohol consumption, each with its own requirements and restrictions.

None of these states limits the amount of permits an on-premises retailer may own. So, for example, a permittee may own a restaurant chain, each with the ability to sell alcohol. But, all of these states place some sort of limit on off-premises retailers, either by limiting ownership by population, permit type, or both.

CONNECTICUT

In Connecticut, package stores may sell liquor, wine, and beer, while grocery stores may sell only beer.

State law places certain permit restrictions on package stores. It allows package store owners to own up to three stores in the state (CGS 30-48a(a)). There is no such restriction on the number of grocery stores that sell beer.

The law also limits the number of package stores in a town to one for every 2,500 residents (CGS 30-14a).

MASSACHUSETTS

In Massachusetts, grocery, convenience, and package stores may all sell liquor, wine, and beer. However, during the local approval process, a city or town may limit the license for grocery and convenience stores to only beer and wine.

State law allows a single owner to hold up to five off-premises permits. Of these, the owner may only hold one permit in an individual town or two in a city. The number of allowable permits will increase to seven in 2016 and from seven to nine in 2020 (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 138, 15). Unlike Connecticut, these restrictions apply to both package and grocery store permits. This means a grocery store chain may only have five individual stores that sell alcohol.

The law allows one permit for every 5,000 people in a town and additional fraction thereof. But regardless of population, a town may grant up to two permits (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 138, 17).

NEW YORK

In New York, package stores may only sell liquor and wine, while grocery and convenience stores may sell only beer.

New York law allows multiple permits for off-premises retailers (i.e., grocery and convenience stores); it limits package store ownership to one per person (N.Y. Alco. Bev. Cont. Law 105(16)).

Although New York does not have any specific population restrictions, the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) states that it is the responsibility of the applicant to prove the new store (1) is a public convenience, (2) will not put other stores out of business, and (3) is not in an oversaturated area.

RHODE ISLAND

In Rhode Island, alcohol for off-premises consumption may be purchased only in package stores. This means grocery and convenience stores do not sell alcohol.

Although the state does not restrict the number of permits a package store owner can have, it allows one permit for every 6,000 residents. But if a town has less than 20,000 residents, it is allowed one permit for every 4,000 residents (R.I. Gen. Laws 3-5-16).

STATE-BY-STATE ALCOHOL PERMIT COMPARISON

Table 1 summarizes and compares certain alcohol permit restrictions for Connecticut and neighboring states.

Table 1: Alcohol Permit Comparison For Off-Premises Sales

State

Premises type; Alcohol Sold

Permit Limitations for Off-premises Ownership

Population-Based Limits

Connecticut

Package Store: All alcohol types (liquor, wine, beer)

Grocery Store: Beer

Three package stores per owner

No restriction on grocery stores

One package store per town for every 2,500 residents

Massachusetts

Package Store:

All alcohol types

Grocery Store:

All alcohol types

For all off-premises permits:

Currently five per owner, but will increase to seven in 2016, and nine in 2020

One per town for every 5,000 residents

New York

Package Store:

liquor and wine

Grocery Store:

beer

One package store per owner

No restrictions on grocery stores

None, but SLA requires applicant to prove public convenience and that the area is not oversaturated

Rhode Island

Package Store: All alcohol types

Grocery Store:

No alcohol sold

None

One per town for every 6,000 residents; one for every 4,000 if the town has less than 20,000 residents

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