Changing How North Carolina Controls Liquor Sales Has Operational, Regulatory, and Financial Ramifications (February 2019)

Changing how North Carolina regulates liquor sales would require major adjustments. Ending government control of retail liquor sales would require decisions related to dissolving local alcohol beverage control (ABC) boards and closing ABC stores, determining regulatory requirements for private retail businesses to sell liquor, and developing an implementation schedule. Ending government control of wholesale liquor sales would further require establishing requirements for a private liquor warehouse and distribution system. The Program Evaluation Division identified three options that assumed local ABC boards would be abolished and local governments would no longer be responsible for operating local ABC stores. Pursuing any of these options would affect the ABC Commission, state and local government revenues, and liquor suppliers and consumers. In lieu of a complete overhaul, the State could choose to further modernize the current system to increase efficiency and profitability. If the General Assembly wishes to change North Carolina’s system for regulating liquor, it should appoint a joint legislative commission to determine how state and local government roles would change. If it wishes to modernize the current system, the General Assembly should direct local ABC boards located in counties with multiple boards to form merged ABC boards; eliminate the purchase-transportation permit for liquor; monitor the selection of a new ABC warehouse contract; and provide local ABC boards with more flexibility to charge delivery fees, serve special order customers, open ABC stores on Sundays, and offer in-store tastings of liquor products.

Final Report

Executive Summary

Mandatory Evaluation Components



Handout 1

Handout 2

Relevant Legislation:

  • Session Law 2019-182 allows ABC stores to offer in-store spirituous liquor tastings; restricts the creation of new ABC systems; exempts mixed beverage permittees from the purchase-transportation permit requirement; requires the ABC Commission to submit a written report to oversight committee chairs detailing progress made in obtaining a contract for state warehouse services; and specifies that if a local board provides delivery of spirituous liquor to a mixed beverages permittee, the local board may charge a fee to the permittee.

Related Reports:

Press Coverage: