June 28, 2022

Big Changes on the Horizon for Alcohol Licensing in Alaska

Holland & Knight Alert
Jessica M. Brown | Michael Brill Newman | Andrew Klair | Isabella Granucci

Recently signed legislation in Alaska promises to upend the alcohol industry and rework the state's licensing structure.

On June 16, 2022, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy signed into law Senate Bill 9 – a comprehensive rewrite of the state's alcohol licensing statute, Title 4. This bill aims to modernize much of the state's nearly 40-year-old alcohol laws. However, many of the changes, including the vaunted end of Alaska's "bar wars," will not become effective for another two years, ostensibly to provide Alaska's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC), acting through the Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office (AMCO), time to develop implementing regulations, as well as providing the industry time to adjust and comply. For example, areas of the law relating to changes in tasting rooms, population caps, license types, and direct-to-consumer sales will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2024. The same is true of licensing endorsements created to cover more licensed premises and uses. As the implementation date nears, and AMCO has promulgated regulations interpreting and implementing the statutes, Holland & Knight will provide further updates on specifics of the changes.

Key Changes in Effect Now

In the meantime, some elements of the law are already in effect as of June 17, 2022. These include:

  • changes to the procedure for home rule cities, first class cities and unified municipalities (Anchorage) to petition ABC to increase restaurant or eating place license caps;
  • the ability for ABC to issue licenses to government entities and tribal organizations;
  • restrictions on renewal of licenses based on public convenience;
    • such licenses may now be converted to restaurant or eating place licenses or, if appropriate, beverage dispensary licenses.

Next Steps

The bulk of changes are still forthcoming and will depend, in part, on ABC's interpretation and implementation in the next two years. Holland & Knight will continue to monitor these developments and provide updates as they arise. Our firm will also participate in public comment period and undertake close work with AMCO officials specific to our client needs and goals, as requested. Should you have any questions about these changes to Alaska's alcohol laws, or need assistance with a license, Holland & Knight is here to help. Our attorneys have years of experience navigating Alaskan alcohol licensing and compliance laws. Please contact the authors or a member of Holland & Knight's Alcohol Beverage Team if you need assistance with your licensing in the state.

Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem, and it should not be substituted for legal advice, which relies on a specific factual analysis. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult the authors of this publication, your Holland & Knight representative or other competent legal counsel.

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