The city won’t accept applications for new package liquor stores under the Fremont Street canopy so don’t bother asking, at least for awhile.
On Wednesday the Las Vegas City Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to direct city staff to stop taking applications for new liquor stores, citing concerns about public drunkenness and safety risks.
The resolution is expected to remain in place until an ordinance that would enact a similar moratorium for six months can be approved, which could happen later this month.
The restrictions come as city officials and some business leaders are looking to pare back the sale of alcohol downtown, particularly along the Fremont Street corridor where dozens of casinos, bars, restaurants and liquor stores ply visitors with booze.
So far the focus has been on package liquor stores, which are outnumbered greatly by taverns, casinos and other booze sellers but are bearing most of the blame for problems.
Specifically, casino and bar owners along the corridor say liquor stores are overselling cheap booze to vagrants and others who are drinking in excess and creating safety risks.
Drinking booze on public streets is legal in Las Vegas, except under certain conditions. If the booze comes from a package liquor store the buyer isn’t allowed to drink it within 1,000 feet of where it was purchased or any other package liquor outlet.
If the booze comes from an establishment with a tavern license, like most casinos and some bars, it is legal to drink it on public sidewalks.
Casino interests have complained liquor stores are selling packaged booze to people in high-traffic areas who can easily blend into the crowd of tourists drinking tavern-bought booze legally.
“Everyone can agree it is legally being sold now,” City Attorney Brad Jerbic said. “But it is not being legally consumed by the consumer.”
The issue came to a head earlier this year when the operators of the Fremont Street Experience canopy, an entity funded by the casinos next to it, opposed applications for four new package liquor stores.
Rather than deny the applications the council asked a committee of business owners, city officials and police to hold non-public meetings to come to a compromise.
The applications came back to the council on Wednesday but were again delayed until Feb. 5. Neither the moratorium resolution nor the proposed moratorium ordinance would affect those existing applicants, Jerbic said.
While support for the moratorium resolution was unanimous, Councilman Ricki Barlow questioned whether the narrow boundaries would make it easy to undermine.
Barlow said there are already applications for locations just outside the boundary which would still be a short walk from the canopy.
“We need to be one step ahead of the game and make sure we look at the entire downtown,” Barlow said.
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