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As We See It

With public drinking laws a mess, City Council halts approval of packaged liquor licenses

Lex Cannon

It’s difficult to see Las Vegas’ public drinking laws as anything but a complete mess. The City Council acknowledged as much last week when it voted unanimously to impose Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s suggested six-month moratorium on all pending liquor licenses—four at the moment—until they can hash things out. It’s not that there’s too much drinking going on (this is Vegas, people!)—it’s that people are doing it wrong. Too many tourists are buying, say, six-packs at convenience stores and taking them to Fremont Street—a direct violation, as you can’t consume “packaged” drinks within 1,000 feet of any store that sells packaged drinks. If said tourists had bought that beer at most bars (several on Fremont East have limited liquor licenses), they’d be just fine. Las Vegas recently imposed a curfew Downtown to curb underage drinking, a measure that appears to be working. But the tens of thousands of people of legal drinking age who pass through that area every year, combined with the 21 liquor licenses selling packaged drinks in a five-block range of Fremont Street (good luck getting more than 1,000 feet from any of those while enjoying yourself Downtown), are creating too many headaches for Metro Police and City Attorney Brad Jerbic, who actually want tourists to enjoy themselves and come back. It all makes you want to just have an unpackaged drink.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Weekly's associate editor, having previously served as assistant features editor at the Las Vegas Sun ...

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