Las Vegas Sun

November 1, 2014

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Las Vegas officials bar new liquor stores, tighten rules

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

People wait as they are searched and their ID checked before entering Fremont Street Experience early Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, in downtown Las Vegas.

Fremont Street Enforcement - July 2013

Officer I. Williams cards Christopher Stovner, 22, in the Fremont East District on Friday, July 5, 2013. Launch slideshow »

The belief that drink-fueled problems in the five-block Fremont Street Experience are caused by package liquor sales prompted the Las Vegas City Council to crack down, toughening laws on existing stores and prohibiting new ones from opening.

The new laws forbid:

• Advertising signage in windows.

• The sale of malt liquor or beer in containers greater than 32 ounces.

• The sale of hard-liquor minis.

• The sale of beer with alcohol content of 11 percent or more.

• Any new stores that sell liquor/wine/beer or coolers.

However, the City Council did approve an exception to allow alcohol sales in grocery stores or pharmacies greater than 12,000 square feet that are attached to buildings with 200 rooms or more.

That prompted one observer to comment: “So they want no new liquor but they make an exception for more liquor.”

Part of the pharmacy exemption appeared directed toward the Las Vegas Club, whose representatives told the council they are hoping to draw CVS to the hotel-casino.

There has also been talk that Tamares, which owns Las Vegas Club, wants to turn its hotel tower into residential units.

The council isn’t done toying with alcohol laws operating in the Fremont Street Experience. They are also going to consider forbidding single-can beer sales at a future meeting.

Why are they doing it?

“We have a problem downtown,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said .

Councilman Steve Ross read a comment from TripAdvisor.com, from someone who apparently visited the Fremont Street Experience: “‘Do not go. Nasty. Unsafe. Creepy.’

"Are you getting the picture people?”

“There is mass chaos,” Councilman Stavros Anthony said. “You have bums eating out of garbage cans ... people are just really drunk."

The Experience has more problems than alcohol, Anthony added. Those will be dealt with at future meetings.

“In a few weeks, we’ll have a new ordinance for another problem then another problem with panhandlers and people in costumes,” he said. “We’ll take a bite of this at a time.”

The issue of too much alcohol on the Experience, a five-block area stretching east from Main Street to Las Vegas Boulevard, began last summer when four applications for new liquor stores came to the city.

With the council’s vote, those four applications are essentially nullified.

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