Yesterday, the Clark County Commission introduced a new ordinance that would ban open glass bottles on the Strip. Glass containers in plastic or paper bags that are stapled shut would be allowed. A public hearing and vote on the matter will be heard on September 16, 2014. The County Commissioners state that the purpose of the ordinance is to reduce litter and broken glass on the Strip. The Strip hotels and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority approve the ordinance. However, small business owners that sell alcohol are opposed. They believe that it will hurt their sales and benefit the hotels as potential customers will have to go indoors to have a drink.
The County ordinance follows the City’s earlier action on the same issue. Earlier this year, the City of Las Vegas tightened rules regarding liquor sales around the Fremont Street Experience. The new rules were an attempt to crack down on public drunkenness and related problems in the area. The new law prohibits:
• Advertising signage in windows.
• The sale of malt liquor or beer in containers greater than 32 ounces.
• The sale of hard-liquor minis.
• The sale of beer with alcohol content of 11 percent or more.
• Any new stores that sell liquor/wine/beer or coolers.
However, the City Council did approve an exception to allow alcohol sales in grocery stores or pharmacies greater than 12,000 square feet that are attached to buildings with 200 rooms or more. This was seen as an attempt to allow the Las Vegas Club to bring in a CVS and to possibly convert from a hotel to a residential units.
After the new law was passed, a downtown liquor store sued in federal court alleging that the City’s new ordinances were unconstitutional. This is because the City is allowing hotel-casinos, grocery stores and pharmacies to continue to sell liquor when liquor stores can no longer do so. In addition, the lawsuit points out that the City allowed liquor to be sold at the new Downtown Container Park despite being anchored by a children’s playground. The lawsuit alleges that the City is crafting laws to favor the gaming industry and the new ordinances will put existing liquor stores out of business. The plaintiff is seeking a temporary injunction to prevent the City from enforcing the new rules. The lawsuit is still pending but the parties have agreed to stay the proceedings for 90 days while they work on a settlement.