Happy Hour In Mass.? Not So Fast

By Sarah Birnbaum

Nov. 3, 2011


For supporters of Sen. Hedlund's amendment to the casino gambling bill, it's an. . . unhappy hour. (mountainhiker/Flickr)

BOSTON — Last month, the Mass. Senate tacked on an amendment to its version of the casino gambling bill that would ease restrictions on so-called “happy hour.” The controversial measure would give Bay State bars and restaurants the same ability as casinos to serve free and discounted drinks.
But the author of the measure, Sen. Robert Hedlund of Weymouth, said it is meeting resistance from the House. It’s also been blasted by families of drunk driving victims.
So Hedlund has asked the casino conference committee to remove the amendment and replace it with a milder one that has a better chance of passing. The new measure would give the state one year to review its existing liquor laws and recommend changes.
“As restaurant owners know, we have some very confusing and archaic laws that govern the promotional side of alcohol serving in restaurant and bars. We know that a lot of restaurants and bars are out of compliance on a daily basis because of the archaic nature of the laws. We have the most restrictive laws in the country with the possible exception of the Mormon state of Utah,” he said.
Hedlund, who is a restaurant owner himself, thought a review could convince the state to revamp its existing alcohol regulations.
The conference committee will have the final say on whether the so-called happy hour amendment is removed or not. 

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