OKLAHOMA CITY — The state agency that regulates alcohol has seen a historic spike in revenue on the strength of liquor law changes that’s pumped millions into its coffers.
“It is a combination of two things,” Keith Burt, director of the Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement Commission said. “We have a lot of new licenses and we have a lot more of them.”
The Oct. 1 change allowed grocery and convenience stores to sell single-strength beer and wine. It required employees at those facilities to get a license and pay a fee.
For fiscal year 2019, the agency saw historic revenue of nearly $13.7 million, said Joshua Maxey, ABLE director of management and budget. The bulk of the dollars go to the state’s General Revenue Fund.
In fiscal year 2018, the agency saw revenue of just more than $9.5 million, Maxey said. In fiscal year 2017, the figure was nearly $7.5 million.
Each of the last three years has been a record in terms of revenue for the agency, he said.
But it is uncertain if the agency will see such high marks next year. Many of the licenses issued to employees who handle alcohol in convenience and grocery stores are for two years. They cost $30 each, he said.
As of June, the agency had 129,573 active employee licenses, compared to 58,296 at the end of fiscal year 2017.
Additional changes to alcohol laws could also bring in more dollars to the agency.
A June 1 law, created by Senate Bill 813, allows certain businesses to serve complementary wine and beer on site to those 21 years old or older.
The bill puts the limit at two alcoholic beverages, 12 ounces of wine and 24 ounces of beer per day per guest for businesses such as nail salons and barber shops.
Currently, 18 of those licenses are active, Maxey said.