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Tougher booze rules in force at Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas

Fremont Street Experience, Downtown Las Vegas
Fremont Street Experience, Downtown Las Vegas
Courtesy russavia via Wiki Commons Attribution license

Effective today (June 22, 2014), revelers are banned from drinking from aluminum cans and glass bottles at Downtown's Fremont Street Experience (FSE) in Vegas. City officials passed stricter ordinances this past Wednesday in order to curb rowdy revelry in the area that has led to fights, excessive panhandling/begging, and even a shooting that wounded two people last summer. Some of the abundant street performers in the area have been charged with overtly aggressive behavior as well. Visitors and residents have expressed ongoing concerns about the above described environment at FSE, forcing the City Council to act. Profits via liquor sales are another perhaps less apparent component of this situation.

Other aspects of the new ordinances include stricter enforcement of liquor sale violations, tighter enforcement of existing rules, and a tighter curfew and enforcement for minors frequenting the area. Heightened security regarding aggressive panhandling and solicitation of tips from tourists will also be enacted. According to officials, there are plans to increase the number of Metro Police officers in the area as well.

Several souvenir shops within the FSE area are opposed to the new laws, claiming the changes will directly affect their bottom line profits. Alcohol sales have represented as much as 90% of some shop's overall sales. The original law allowed ancillary sale of packaged liquor limited to no more than 10% of a given shop's floor space. Several shop employees have been recorded selling alcohol and subsequently advising customers they could open and consume it once outside. The original law prohibited customers from opening purchased alcohol until they were beyond 1000 feet of the store where purchased.

City Council members referred to these small shops as 'full-fledged liquor stores' with an inability to control packaged liquor sales during their arguments regarding the new ordinances. The new law bans opening of any packaged liquor on the FSE mall regardless of where it comes from. Naturally, the FSE downtown casinos support the ordinance, since it will likely force increased liquor sales at their establishments. At least one small shop owner (ABC Stores) has filed suit against the city over the new law, claiming they set up a regulatory scheme that violates the store's constitutional rights to equal protection, due process, and free speech.

Customers frequent the smaller convenience stores to buy cheaper alcohol compared to the casinos in the area. Essentially, alcohol prices have just gone up at FSE.


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