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November 27, 2014

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City Council bans alcohol bottles and cans at Fremont Street Experience

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Sam Morris

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

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A view of the Beverly Palms Hotel on Sixth Street in downtown Las Vegas Tuesday, May 15, 2014. STEVE MARCUS Launch slideshow »

Drinking alcohol from bottles or cans outside in the downtown casino district, a practice that has been allowed for years, could now bring a fine of up to $500, under a measure passed today by the Las Vegas City Council.

By unanimous vote, the council voted to ban the consumption of alcoholic beverages from the original containers — glass, aluminum and plastic cans or bottles — in the five-block area of the Fremont Street Experience.

Previously, it was legal to carry drinks bought at downtown casinos outside, although it was always illegal to consume alcoholic beverages purchased at package stores within 1,000 feet of those stores.

Practically speaking, however, the old ordinance was difficult to enforce because it was tough to determine where a drink was obtained.

“This makes it a lot simpler,” City Attorney Brad Jerbic said. “No one will have to guess if it’s 1,000 feet or 99 feet. If you adopt it, that will be the end of all... original packaging.”

Those found violating the ordinance could be fined $250 for a first offense and $500 for a second infraction. The new rules take effect Sunday.

The Fremont Street Experience is that area of old Las Vegas casinos — the Four Queens, Golden Nugget and Golden Gate, for instance — that has become something of a victim of downtown’s resurgence as a nightspot.

More people are visiting downtown, but law enforcement and city officials complained that liquor stores were contributing to a growing problem with fights and other issues requiring police attention.

Last month, the council approved a new ordinance that would allow the sale of package liquor from grocery stores and pharmacies in the same downtown area but forbid the approval of package liquor licenses for anyone else.

It also passed measures banning package liquor stores from advertising in windows, selling malt liquor or beer in containers larger than 32 ounces, selling mini bottles of liquor and selling beverages with an alcohol content of 11 percent or more.

Those laws, however, are being challenged in court.

Last week, a federal court judge granted an injunction until a hearing scheduled for Monday. The lawsuit was filed by siblings Aliza Elazar-Higuchi and and Eli Elezra, who own a souvenir and package liquor store.

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