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Issue Date: Vol. 53, No. 6, June 2013, Posted On: 6/10/2013


Measure To Extend Bar Hours Fails In California


Nick Montano
Nick@vendingtimes.net
TAGS: last call, bar business, coin-op business, jukebox locations, California bar hours, extend bar hours, Mark Leno, amusement business, alcohol safety

SAN FRANCISCO -- It looks like Las Vegas, Miami and New York City will remain the main destinations for partygoers. A proposal to extend bar hours in California failed to get enough votes in a state Senate committee in April. The proposal would have given local counties and cities the authority to extend bars hours to 4 a.m.

For now, the last call for drinks in California remains at 2 a.m., which state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) says does not allow the state to compete with other hotspots that serve alcohol later into the wee hours of the morning, or 24 hours a day. An additional two hours would have almost certainly been a boon for music and games operators serving California's bars and taverns.

Opponents urged California's lawmakers to consider public safety. Law enforcement warned that allowing cities to extend hours would create what they call "liquor commuters" -- when one jurisdiction closes at 2 a.m., while another closes at 4 a.m. Low-income neighborhood activists, who argued that alcohol is a big problem in the state, were also against Leno's proposal.

Leno contends that cities which allow longer bar hours do not experience higher rates of alcohol-related crashes than places with normal hours, and that the state needs to cater to all groups in a 24/7 society. "Not everyone is working 9 to 5 Monday through Friday, and for that reason, I think it makes sense to consider this extra hour or two for alcoholic services," he said.

Bar owners and some city leaders, who agree that the Golden State is at a disadvantage when trying to lure conventions and tourists, supported the measure. Backers of extended bar hours are now thinking about a ballot measure so that voters can decide on the issue in 2016.


Last Call

Final call times for alcohol service are often legally mandated and vary widely locally and globally. Reasons given for such legislation include reducing late-night noise in neighborhoods, traffic accidents, violence and alcohol-related health problems.

Florida: The statewide closing time is 2 a.m., but some areas have passed exemption laws, notably Tampa, St. Petersburg and Pinellas County, extending it to 3 a.m., Broward County to 4 a.m. and Miami for 24-hour service in the Entertainment District.

Nevada: There is no set statewide closing time. Bars can serve alcohol 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

New York: Under state law, establishments must stop serving alcohol by 4 a.m., but the actual closing time is left up to each of New York's 62 counties. The 4 a.m. time holds in New York City, but clubs and bars can stay open without serving alcohol; they can start serving at 7 a.m., except on Sunday, when sales begin at noon. Last call is also 4 a.m. in Saratoga Springs, Buffalo and Albany. Elmira, Geneva and Ithaca have a time of 1 a.m. Some rural counties enforce earlier closing times.

United Kingdom: From late 2005, drinking establishments could apply for licenses to stay open and serve alcohol for 24 hours a day, making round-the-clock drinking (in England and Wales) a reality. However, many establishments still close between 11 p.m. and midnight, especially during the workweek. Within the first month of becoming law, more than 1,000 pubs, clubs and supermarkets had been granted 24-hour licenses to sell alcohol. A further 40% of premises had applied to vary their licenses to either extend opening times by an hour or two, or to offer late night food or entertainment. In 2008, Scotland joined England and Wales when new licensing laws came into effect.


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