Happy Hour Could Return To Mass.

By Sarah Birnbaum

Oct. 12, 2011


An amendment to the casino bill could mean that happy hour specials, like two-for-one drinks, could come back to Massachusetts (mountainhiker/Flickr).

BOSTON — For the first time in most than two decades, bars and restaurants may be able to offer discounted drinks in Massachusetts, under a measure passed by the state Senate on Tuesday.

The measure is included in the casino bill. It passed quickly and without much explanation.

Lawmakers were rapidly making their way through amendments dealing with casino alcohol policy. When Senator Robert Hedlund of Weymouth argued that if casinos are allowed to offer free drinks, which they are under the current version of the bill, all bars and restaurants should be allowed to, as a way to level the playing field.

“It’s just a question of fairness and I don’t think from a public safety standpoint we’re going to roll the clock back to set in precedent anything that’s going to be threatening especially since the great work we’ve done to update the drunk driving laws in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Hedlund said.

Bay State bars haven’t been allowed to offer promotions on drinks since 1984, when Massachusetts became the first state in the country to ban Happy Hour.

The amendment passed in the Senate with bipartisan support, by a vote of 13 to 25. But it could still be removed from the bill in conference committee.

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