A recent thread over on Harrisburg Nightlife talking about Hollywood Casino in Grantville led to a discussion on Pennsylvania’s liquor laws. The subject of the oft-discussed but rarely-seen mythical “entertainment license” came up. While no such license actually exists, I did uncover some interesting news about a (hopefully) upcoming liquor law change.
In case you weren’t already familiar, Pennsylvania law requires that alcohol sales stop between the hours of 2am and 7am daily Monday through Saturday. Establishments holding a Sunday sales permit may also sell alcohol between 11am Sunday and 2am Monday. Non-profit organizations can acquire a “club license”, which permits them to sell alcohol to club members only between the hours of 7am and 3am. The law goes into a little more detail about when entertainment must stop and when the premises must be vacated, but for all practical purposes, no matter what the license, the venue must be closed during non-sale hours. However (you knew this couldn’t be simple), a venue in posession of a Sunday sales permit can apply for an “extended hours food permit”, which would permit them to remain open serving only food while they would otherwise be closed (it also explicitly specifies that patrons can not posess alcohol between 2:30am and 7am).
So in other words, most venues can’t serve alcohol after 2am, NO venue can serve alcohol after 3am, and most venues must close when they’re not selling alcohol. Got it?
Enter House Bill # 2206. Currently, our legislature is considering permitting casinos to extend their alcohol sales until 5am. While it’s not 24-hour service, it would be a welcome improvement over the current 2am limit. It’s even more interesting when you consider that this would place Pennsylvania casinos ahead of, say, New York City nightclubs. Of course, such a license comes with a cost — $125,000 to the LCB up-front plus another $15,000 annually. But fees like that aren’t even a drop in the bucket to the casino.
Especially one that charges for drinks.