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December 17, 2014

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Las Vegas considering outdoor ban on alcohol bottles, cans downtown

Image

Sam Morris

A man drinks beer from a plastic cowboy boot on Fremont Street Saturday, June 30, 2012.

A city of Las Vegas committee will consider a new booze rule allowing people to drink only from plastic cups in a 32-block area around Fremont Street downtown.

The proposed amendment to city ordinances is meant to help police enforce regulations prohibiting the outdoor consumption of alcohol purchased from liquor stores within 1,000 feet of those stores.

Part of the problem has been the difficulty for police to determine where someone purchased the drink in their hand. Alcoholic beverages purchased from casinos are allowed outside.

The new rule is designed to help police because those buying from a liquor store would presumably be drinking from the can or bottle they just purchased. Meanwhile, those who purchased alcohol from a casino would be served with plastic cups or have to pour their drink into a plastic cup if they stepped outside.

The city’s Recommending Committee, which examines bills to be considered by the entire City Council, will review the amendment June 2.

Currently, six gift shop/liquor stores operate in the Fremont Street Experience, the area beneath downtown’s electrified canopy.

Law enforcement and city officials say the liquor stores are contributing to a growing problem downtown with fights and other issues requiring police attention.

Liquor store owners counter that the problem is related to the permanent outdoor bars that downtown hotel-casinos have set up along the street.

The 1,000-foot law has been in effect for several years but never strictly enforced. And there are some potential pitfalls to the new proposal.

“I imagine some people (who purchased from liquor stores) will dig in the trash for plastic cups (to pour their drinks into),” said Terry Murphy, a consultant with Strategic Solutions working for the Fremont Street Experience. “But this is a step in the right direction.”

There’s also the possibility that liquor stores might start selling plastic cups, she said.

The law would apply within an area bounded by Stewart Avenue to the north, Bridger Avenue to the south, 8th Street to the east and the Union Pacific Railroad right of way to the west, which is essentially Main Street.

Responding to complaints about fights and other policing issues downtown, the city’s elected officials have vowed to improve the area.

Last week, they enacted a law forbidding new liquor stores, with exceptions for pharmacies and grocery stores. Also prohibited in the Fremont Street area is the sale of beer with an alcohol content of 11 percent or more, containers of malt liquor or beer that are 32 ounces or larger and miniature bottles of liquor.

Liquor store owners also are prohibited from putting advertising in their windows.

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