Should Mass. Bring Back Happy Hour?

By Jaclyn Cashman

Oct. 14, 2011

Watch the segment that aired on Oct. 12 on WGBH's Greater Boston.

BOSTON — When the news came earlier this week that, under an amendement in the casino bill, discounted drinks could return to the Bay State, some excitment ensued. An unscientific Greater Boston poll of 106 Bostonians and found 70 percent want to bring Happy Hour Back, 19 percent said no and 11 percent just don't care.

The amendment passed 25-to-13 with bipartisan support, although Senate President Therese Murray warned that the provision could get tied up in the House. The idea, lawmakers said, is that since casino operators often provide free or discounted drinks restaurant and bar owners should be able to do the same to level the playing field.

State Senators Bob Hedlund and Patricia Jehlen took on the issue with Greater Boston host Emily Rooney.

Senator Hedlund said he is not a fan of discounted drinks but simply wants to ensure that restaurants and bars can compete. In fact, he voted in favor of a failed amendment that would have banned free alcoholic drinks at casinos altogether, joining critics who said they feared it would lead to an increase in drunk driving and related accidents. He said he would prefer not to offer drink specials at his own restaurant, Four Square, in Weymouth.

Sen. Patricia Jehlen voted down the measure saying that allowing free drinks at casinos would put thousands of bars and restaurants at a competitive disadvantage, and that the amendment to ban free drinks was backed by the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.


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