Since the recent legislative session, a variety of adjustments and new alcohol laws have been approved that changed or will soon change how businesses can sell beer, what approvals they need for events, as well as, where consumers can purchase and enjoy their beer. The new laws include: Senate Bill 728 which allows golf courses and marinas to sell beer for off-premise consumption and went into effect immediately; Senate Bill 804 which started on July 1 and allows municipalities to approve plans for sporting, art and festival events to let patrons walk around with strong beer and wine and allows bars and restaurants to sell to-go beer and wine during college football game days if they are within a certain proximity to the stadium; and House Bill 2325 which allows minors to accompany their parents or guardians into a liquor store and will start on November 1. In addition, the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE) Commission created a new license and clarified rules for businesses as they continue to adjust to modern alcohol laws.
Although these changes were business and consumer-driven, the back-and-forth has left some people questioning what they are and are not allowed to do. Lisette Barnes, president of the Oklahoma Beer Alliance, answers some of the most popular and pressing questions about what the new rules and laws actually mean for businesses and consumers:
- When I go golfing, can I purchase beer at the clubhouse and on the golf course? Yes, Senate Bill 728 was signed by the Governor in April and went into effect immediately, so golfers can purchase beer or wine at the clubhouse or on the golf course. Golfers can purchase as many unopened beers or containers of wine as they would like for off-premise consumption, such as on the golf course; however, there is a two-drink limit per purchase for mixed beverages with liquor.
- Do golf courses need a new license to sell beer, wine or liquor on the golf course? No, not necessarily. According to the ABLE Commission, golf courses need to send a notification letter to the Commission and then can sell beer, wine or liquor under their on-premise license, but they must charge the higher on-premise drink tax. However, if golf courses decide to also get an off-premise license, they can sell beer, wine or liquor with the lower off-premise tax. Golf courses will have to decide if this is worthwhile for their business.
- I recently went to a nail salon out of state and they served complimentary champagne and mimosas, but I heard this isn’t allowed in Oklahoma. Will this change? Yes, there is a new complimentary beverage license, so businesses can now legally provide complimentary beverages to their customers. Businesses can apply for this license through the ABLE Commission.
- I head to the lake quite often. Can I purchase beer at the marina now? Yes, boaters across Oklahoma can purchase beer for off-premise consumption from properly-licensed marinas again.
- If I go to a festival or outdoor event, can I walk around with my beer? If the event does not restrict this within its boundaries then yes, attendees can walk around with a beer. However, events can choose to have designated bar areas and restrict attendees from walking around with beer they purchased at the event.
- What licenses or approvals do events or retailers need to have to let attendees walk around with a beer or a glass of wine? For special events, retailers that operate a temporary beer and wine cart or tent, for instance at the Festival of the Arts or Oklahoma State Fair, would need a special events license. If it is a municipally-sanctioned sports, art or festival event, the municipality must provide written notice of the event and a list of the invited on-premise retailers (bars and restaurants) that are participating and selling alcohol to the ABLE Commission at least five days prior to the event.
- Did the college football game day rules change so bars and restaurants can sell to-go beer and wine again? Yes, bars and restaurants within 2,000 feet of the stadium can sell to-go beer and wine to consumers from 8 a.m. to midnight under Senate Bill 804 and consumers can walk around with their beverage. In addition, consumers can purchase beer or wine from an off-premise retailer, such as a convenience or grocery store, and walk around in public with it now.
- When can I shop in a liquor store with my minor child? Oklahomans can start shopping in liquor stores with their minor children starting on November 1.
- Can I walk around my neighborhood with an alcoholic beverage? Yes, as long as the beer or wine is brought from home or purchased from an off-premise retailer, like a convenience or grocery store.
- Why will my local bar only sell me two beers at a time, instead of the bucket of beer I used to be able to buy? The laws that govern full-strength beer, wine and liquor sales restrict the number of open, full-strength drinks you can purchase at a time from an on-premise retailer, like a bar or restaurant. So, buckets of beer are no longer available in Oklahoma for the time being.
- Why do these laws feel more restrictive than before? Oklahoma has made great strides in modernizing its alcohol laws to allow cold, full-strength beer sales and many consumers are thrilled with these changes. However, there are differences in how 3.2 beer was sold and how full-strength beer is now sold, and businesses and consumers are getting used to the new rules. As with any major law change, we expect legislators will continue to finetune the laws to find the right solutions for both consumers and businesses.
About Oklahoma Beer Alliance
The Oklahoma Beer Alliance is dedicated to promoting common sense laws that enable Oklahomans to choose the highest quality products without compromise, while encouraging personal responsibility throughout our community that benefits the common good. For more information, please visit okbeeralliance.com.