New liquor rule eases famously strict Utah limits

AP News
Posted: Jul 03, 2014 1:43 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A new state law puts Utah liquor licenses on the free market.

For the first time, would-be bar owners can legally buy the right to pour and serve alcoholic drinks directly from other business owners, instead of the state.

Approved in 2011, the law went into effect Tuesday.

Some bar operators are toasting the move, welcoming the state's decision to give up some control when it comes to liquor regulations.

Others estimate it could spur bidding wars up to a few hundred thousand dollars, smothering new entrepreneurs with little to spend.

The rule stipulates buyers must qualify under state regulations and pay Utah a $300 fee.

Utah liquor laws are considered among the strictest nationwide, but have relaxed in recent years: Until 2009, bars operated as members-only social clubs.