Gov. Cuomo Proposes Changes to Liquor Laws

Two significant changes in New York’s liquor laws have been proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his 2020 State of the State message. The first relates to the tied house rule, a post-Prohibition law that prohibits anyone having any interest in a liquor manufacturer or wholesaler from having an interest in a retail liquor license. This rule is an absolute prohibition under current law, and even a de minimus interest is unlawful. Under the new proposal, the rule would only apply if the retailer is “wholly owned” by the manufacturer or wholesaler. This would not disqualify an investor from having a tied-house interest if the retailer is not wholly owned by the manufacturer or retailer. The second proposed change is to license motion picture theaters. Under current law, a movie theater can only serve alcoholic beverages if it meets the definition of a restaurant, that is serving full meals out of a kitchen in the charge of a chef.  The current proposal would impose some restrictions, but would remove the restaurant requirement. We will be tracking these proposals to see if they become law.