Everyone likes a good happy hour. This is beyond debate. When it comes to permitted liquor establishments in Ohio, violation of the “rules” of happy hour, can make a pub sad. As one of the most heavily regulated industries in Ohio, not surprisingly, there are very specific rules that licensed liquor establishments must comply with when it comes to happy hour. As with most things alcohol-related, the State of Ohio heavily regulates what establishments can and cannot offer to patrons during happy hour(s).
Ohio is not unique. Many states have restrictive rules for happy hours for public safety reasons. As of July 2015, 33 states placed some type of limits on what promotions liquor permit holders could offer.
Eleven states ban happy hours altogether (Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah Vermont).
Ohio is one of 9 states that put time restrictions on happy hour (Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia).
Eighteen states + D.C. have no bans or restrictions on happy hour (California, Colorado, DC, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming)
- No liquor permit holder can sell to any person or group two or more servings of alcohol upon the placing of an order for an individual serving of an alcoholic beverage (“limit two”);
- No liquor permit holder can sell to any person or group an unlimited number of servings of alcoholic beverages during any set time for a fixed price (no “drink and drown”);
- No liquor permit holder can sell to any person or group any alcoholic beverage after 9pm at a price less than the regularly charged price (no “happy hour” after 9pm);
- No liquor permit holder can encourage or allow a game or contest that involves the drinking of alcoholic beverages or the awarding of alcoholic beverages as a prize (no “beer pong” for profit?); and,
- No liquor permit holder can increase the volume of alcoholic beverages contained in a serving without increasing proportionately the price charged for the serving (no “doubles” for the “regular” price of a single). (Ohio Administrative Code 4301:1-1-50)
To comply with these regulations, liquor permit holders must also establish a schedule of prices for all drinks. The prices are effective for “not less than one calendar month.” This schedule allows establishments to sell at a price less than the scheduled price before 9pm. So, “happy hour” can be “happy hours” as long as the specials end at 9 o’clock.
Kevin and Adam