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Bill in Olympia would ease laws on alcohol at movies
OLYMPIA, Wash. — A bill is going through the Washington state Senate to allow more movie theaters to serve wine and other alcoholic beverages.
Right now to be eligible for a license to serve wine and alcohol, a theater must not have more than 120 seats per screen. And it must be able to prepare and serve complete meals, as well as provide tabletop accommodations for in-theater dining.
Also, if minors are allowed in such a theater, that establishment must have an alcohol control plan approved by the Washington Liquor & Cannabis Board.
Nine theaters serve wine under the current law, said Rick Garza, executive director of the Washington Liquor & Cannabis Board.
The bill would eliminate both the 120-seat-per-screen limit and the tabletop requirement.
“This is an approach that I think will help a lot of local theater operations,” Keiser said.
Theater representatives ask committee for support
At the Jan. 19 hearing by the state Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee on Keiser’s bill, T.K. Bentler, an official with AMC Theaters said, “Theaters are either dying or trying to make a comeback.”
Frank Lewis, director of alcohol operations for AMC, said fewer teenagers are patronizing movies theaters. As a result, the theaters are looking to rebuild adult attendance. Also, adding tabletops takes up space that would normally be used for seats.
A.J. Witherspoon, vice president of Galaxy Theaters, said movie patrons usually order just one drink for a film showing.
“We’ve sold alcohol for nine years and never had an incident of someone having too much to drink,” Witherspoon said.
No one from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs testified in person, but the organization indicated on a hearing sign-in sheet that it opposes the bill.