Halloween is almost here and many bars, nightclubs and other licensed establishments are getting creative with their events and marketing of alcoholic beverages.
If you’re having a costume contest at your establishment, be careful what you give away as prizes. I just read about a winery whose Halloween bash includes a “frightfully exciting” costume contest, with the winner receiving a bottle of wine.
Things could get more frightening than they planned if the ABC finds out. While retailers are allowed to sponsor contests at their premises and give prizes to contestants, there are some restrictions:
First, the prizes can’t be alcoholic beverages.
Second, the contest can’t be conditioned on the purchase, sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Third, the contest does not involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages (e.g., beer pong).
Any one of these three issues would be a violation of Rule 106(l)(1) of the Business and Professions Code and could result in the ABC taking disciplinary action against the licensee.
As to drink specials, an establishment cannot offer complimentary or free alcoholic beverages, but may offer packages that include alcoholic beverages, provided the total charge to the customer covers their cost of acquisition (to prevent a free goods violation).
Nor can they offer alcoholic beverages at “two for the price of one, “buy one, get one free,” “all you can drink,” or in any other manner where a patron is required to buy more than one drink at a time in order to received a reduced price.
Stay safe and legal at Halloween and always.