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* Massachusetts is debating whether to reinstate happy hours after a 27-year ban. The argument in favor of the proposal is that it will create much-needed jobs in the hospitality industry

The Senate last month included the amendment in its version of a bill allowing casinos in Massachusetts. Specifically, it gave bars and restaurants the same rights that casinos would have under a new “gaming beverage license,” citing as theoretical examples “the right to give free alcoholic beverages to customers as part of promotions” and “drink specials that vary by night.”

State Senator Robert L. Hedlund, a restaurant owner who sponsored the amendment, said the idea was to put bars and restaurants on equal footing with the casinos that will be allowed to open in Massachusetts under legislation that is being completed in a conference committee. “We have the most restrictive laws in the country on drink promotion except for Utah, a Mormon state,” Mr. Hedlund said.

In 1984, Mr. Dukakis signed the happy hour ban as part of a broader effort to crack down on drunken driving. In a recent interview, Mr. Dukakis described the amendment as “outrageous.”

“Unquestionably, people will lose their lives if this happens,” he said. […]

But Mr. Hedlund said that tough drunken-driving laws save lives, not happy hour bans. And Jan Withers, the national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said that while her group worried about anything that “encourages excessive amounts of alcohol,” it would not lobby against the amendment.

Illinois banned happy hours long ago.

* The Question: Should Illinois repeal its happy hour ban? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please. Thanks.

Online Surveys & Market Research

posted by Rich Miller
Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 11:59 am


  1. At first I thought it read must needed jobs in the hospital industry (it would create those too!)

    Comment by Just Saying Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:03 pm

  2. Drinking isn’t that expensive….

    Comment by OneMan Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:08 pm

  3. Do not reinstate … “all day specials” that Illinois has is good enough. A “happy hour” special just encourages more drinking, not more jobs. It will move “product”, but what bar/restaurant/etc. is going to increase its bottom line in this economy when it can just move that product with the same staff.

    All about the alcohol, not about the jobs.

    Comment by Oswego Willy Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:12 pm

  4. Voted yes. In light of all the other penalties around now that weren’t around when the happy hour ban went into effect (for example, restaurants/bars being held liable for serving an intoxicated person, which wasn’t the case back then), this ban isn’t needed. The nanny state should take its government hands off my beer bottle.

    Comment by TwoFeetThick Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:12 pm

  5. I voted yes, but I honestly don’t care. Lots of bars offer drink packages where it’s all you can drink for a certain price, I don’t see how having buy one get one free or something similar will change things much. I guess I’m voting yes mainly in case it will make my average bar spending decrease, in which case I will surely spend that money elsewhere.

    Comment by Small Town Liberal Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:15 pm

  6. Yes. I miss all the little hors d’oeuvres bars used to put out during Happy Hour.

    Comment by Cheryl44 Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:17 pm

  7. Bring happy hours back! I want my cheap beer!

    Comment by foster brooks Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:17 pm

  8. make happy hour more happy!

    Comment by amalia Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:22 pm

  9. Yes, to provide Rich with a focused opportunity to collect intelligence in the late afternoon.

    Comment by Pot calling kettle Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:22 pm

  10. I voted “no” but I don’t think it really matters. Happy hours are in effect everywhere. Pick up the RedEye and The Reader and every other ad is about cheap drink specials somewhere.

    Comment by wordslinger Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:23 pm

  11. PCK, no need to worry about me. During session, I have a couple of “happy hour” spots that are truly happy.

    Comment by Rich Miller Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:27 pm

  12. The Great Depression was the final cure for Prohibition and so also this. Get rid of it; it’s not like anything else the legislature is doing will improve our lives or make us feel better about them.

    Comment by Dirt Digger Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:31 pm

  13. Yes. And all saloons should accept Link cards in payment. Everyone wins except the deceased and the maimed an their families. More taxes collected, increased auto and dram shop insurance premiums, body shops happy, same for hospitals, morticians, graveyards, prison gards, attorneys, bail bondsmen, etc. More gambling. More drinks. More pot (soon with de-criminalization). Is the analogy to fall of Rome too far fetched?

    Comment by Cook County Commoner Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:34 pm

  14. –Is the analogy to fall of Rome too far fetched?–

    Rome fell?

    Comment by wordslinger Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:35 pm

  15. Yes, because this law is selectively enforced.

    Comment by Dirty Red Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:39 pm

  16. I don’t know about Rome, but 19th century temperance reformists seem to be alive and well.

    Comment by Dirt Digger Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:40 pm

  17. Carrie Nation go home. Alcohol’s heavily regulated enough. Lay off the little tavern that wants to boost business.

    Comment by Ray del Camino Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:50 pm

  18. Yes, because government shouldn’t be constraining the rights of individuals and private businesses in the free market without reasonable justification. The reasonable justification, in this case, seems primarily to be that a happy hour ban “saves lives”. That seems to be a reach, and I think there are better ways to deal the root problem.

    However, legislators would have to research the issue a bit before acting, and there more critical issues to research at the moment. So I guess my real answer is Illinois shouldn’t waste it’s time on happy hours bills right now?

    Comment by Liandro Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 12:56 pm

  19. Not necessary…I see plenty of happy people everywhere in the Loop from about twelve noon and every hour thereafter…BTW, I was recently in MA for a funeral and there’s another strange serving prohibition in the Bay state for funeral home proprieters banning them from serving greiving friends and families of the deceased any food or beverage at all. We had to go to a convenience store nearby to have a cup of coffee while waiting for folks to pay their last respects….weird!

    Comment by Borealis Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:14 pm

  20. Happy hours should be allowed because that should not be governments role. Government needs to regulate the market where there is potential for fraud and crony capitalism that destroys a level playing field. Not regulate the private decisions of small business and individuals.

    A couple of bucks wont change how much I drink when I am out, it may change how often I go out, though, depriving bars from their non alcohol related profits.

    Comment by Anon Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:17 pm

  21. Voted yes because there are now stricter laws in place that make this ban unnecessary. While there are “all day” specials in plenty, happy hour is happy hour. Give me back my “1/2 price appetizers with drink” specials!

    Comment by Kari Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:23 pm

  22. ===Is the analogy to fall of Rome too far fetched? ===

    Yes. Unbelievably far-fetched to the point of laughable.

    This is not a new thing. Illinois had happy hours for decades. Going back to the old law wouldn’t, therefore, be pushing Illinois down a new path to destructiveness.

    Since their outlaw, Illinois has elected George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn. I’m not saying there’s a connection there, but it most surely destroys your breathlessly silly Rome argument.

    Comment by Rich Miller Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:24 pm

  23. Yes, I really miss double bubble at No Dogs Allowed in Kankakee. They used to really pack them in back in the day, although my memories are a bit hazy. I recall that I was much better looking and way more charming when the drinks were two for one.

    Although I hate to admit it, I’m not 25 anymore, so I’m not sure this change would affect me much, beyond improving my chances of encountering a drunk driver. So there’s that little issue to consider.

    Comment by 47th Ward Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:39 pm

  24. Yes. Free up the Happy Hour police to do something more productive. Has anyplace been busted for breaking the happy hour ban?

    Comment by overcooked Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:41 pm

  25. I voted yes because it is time the GA did something to make Illinois a happier place.

    Comment by Irish Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:41 pm

  26. Yes. It isn’t really enforced as it is, and, more importantly, I’m cheap.

    Comment by Robert Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:42 pm

  27. Rome fell because of happy hour? I don’t remember that little tidbit from history class.

    Comment by How Ironic Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:44 pm

  28. Repeal the ban. Let businesses do what their customers want, given all the other restrictions on alcohol abuse, misuse, and taxation.

    Comment by walkinfool Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:45 pm

  29. The re-instatement of Happy Hour certainly makes a lot more sense than “all day specials” if there are concerns of Happy Hour causing more or “power drinking”. Two to three hours of low cost drinks are far better than 18 hours of same for both the retailer and the consumer.

    Comment by Norm with ILBA Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:49 pm

  30. Illinois has, by far, the highest Alcohol tax and the strictest regulations in the Nation. If we don’t get some relief Wal-Mart and Costco will have bars and nightclubs with all day discount drinks. NO JOKE!!!!!

    Comment by Sick & Tired Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:54 pm

  31. I was taught Rome fell because they legalized pot. lol….

    Yes to bringing back happy hour. Legalized prostitution would be nice too, but I’ll settle for Happy Hour for now. (And pot later)

    Comment by Hello You Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 1:58 pm

  32. I voted yes. get rid of the all day drink prices, if someone wants an inexpensive drink they no where the best all day specials are. let the establishment decide what works best for them.

    Comment by tugboat Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:03 pm

  33. Happy Hour ban is no longer necessary. Increased DUI enforcement has created a shift in attitudes about drinking and driving. Lifting the ban will benefit saloon owners, saloon patrons, and taxi and livery service providers. Alcohol sales don’t typically suffer during weak economic times.

    Comment by a round on the house Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:09 pm

  34. ===Has anyplace been busted for breaking the happy hour ban?===

    You would be VERY suprised how often its enforced by the Liquor Control Commission, very very suprised.

    Again, I am against the premise that lifting the ban will create jobs. Lifting it alone will not be the elixer for hospitality job creation.

    Tell me you are doing it to help the wholesalers/distributors and THEY are going to create jobs there, I can believe that.

    Comment by Oswego Willy Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:09 pm

  35. Alcohol-related traffic deaths have declined significantly since the 1980s when IL banned happy hours.
    Dirt digger
    There’s a misapprehension that because Prohibition was repealed, therefore no alcohol regulation is needed to promote public health and safety. The IL Liquor Control Act states just the opposite.

    Comment by reformer Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:10 pm

  36. Free drinks? Three for ones? All-you-can-drink-for $5? Is there anyone who will argue that such promotions won’t encourage excessive consumption?

    Comment by reformer Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:11 pm

  37. Yes. Simple. Too many laws.
    There are already laws against the bad things that can happen from alcohol abuse, but a)I’m tired of the government trying to regulate personal responsibility and b)I’m tire of politicians trying to make points by creating such regulation.

    Comment by JustaJoe Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:16 pm

  38. Repeal the ban. The way things are going, the only tax that will generate any money for the Capital Plan (remember that, you know $31 billion effort to put people back to work) will be the unconstitutional - no wait sorry, now constitutional - tax on alcohol. There will be Illinois Lottery terminals at taverns and on-line before video poker is licensed. Besides, President Preckwinkle will support increased alcohol sales.

    Comment by bigdaddygeo Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:17 pm

  39. The Happy Hour ban was driven by suburban mayors, appalled at the number of DUI arrests in their towns between 5-8pm. With a .08 BAC limit now, and even tougher enforcement bringing back happy hours might be a new revenue center for some Chicago suburbs.

    The state writes lots and lots of Happy Hour tickets on local bars already. Bringing happy hour would kill of the “$1 domestic bottles all day” deals for some more reasonable promotions.

    But I doubt IL’s chapter of MADD would be as supportive as the Mass. chapter.

    Comment by Chicago Bars Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:18 pm

  40. The cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.

    Comment by Beer Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:28 pm

  41. Yes, because I miss 5 beers for a buck at the Hangar circa 1989.

    Comment by Michelle Flaherty Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:44 pm

  42. I voted no. Although I too enjoyed many happy hours at No Dogs in KKK. I’m not 25 anymore either and all day specials do me just fine at the end of the day.

    Comment by Way Way Down Here Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:50 pm

  43. State-wide repeal should occur immediately. This is an issue for the municipalities, not the state.

    Comment by Cincinnatus Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 2:51 pm

  44. Repeal, repeal and again I say repeal!!!

    Comment by Algusto Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 3:05 pm

  45. I can see the argument for both sides, but I own a small Bar and Grill in North Central Illinois, and would personally like to see the ban lifted. The Liquor Commisioner does check our local are to see if people are violating the happy hour law among many other things, but people in our area are still doing it. Others like myself have gone to the all day specials ONLY because it has become so cut throat between local establismentsfighting for what little business is out there, we are forcing each other to sell cheap all day long. For example… our Wed. special is $2 you call it. and Thursday is $1 domestic bottles or cans. so let me ask both sides this….would you sell your Patron for $2 a shot? and do you want someone driving that has been sitting in my bar all day taking advantage of $2 Patron shots or $1 beers from open to close? Bring back happy hoour so we can all make a little more money, and prevent the local sauce hound from occupying a barstool all day!

    Comment by Scottyo Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 3:06 pm

  46. ==You would be VERY suprised how often its enforced by the Liquor Control Commission, very very suprised==
    Repeal the ban only if it is connected to laying off some liquor control commission members to save a few bucks.

    Comment by Robert Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 3:11 pm

  47. there is a happy hour ban in IL?????! really?? I mean, every bar and restuarant has happy hour it seems.. I’ve only lived in IL for 3.5 years, but I would think I would know about such a “ban”. Can someone fill me in on this ban and the bill that did so?


    Comment by matty Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 4:12 pm

  48. Sure, the same time they repeal the smoking ban.

    Comment by TimB Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 4:39 pm

  49. why do we continue to have happy days—it is very hard for the bars to compete with each other and the rest of the happy hour law causes some confusion on the two drinks held by one person. we allow a bucket of beer ect.

    Comment by denese Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 4:58 pm

  50. Let’s all go back and get the government off our backs. We are very able to make our own rules and rates for our customers. We do not need Happy Days where a person can drink all day for less.

    Comment by Chuck Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 5:19 pm

  51. So Dukakis who lost the convicted murderer, Willie Horton, thinks that Happy Hours are going to cost lives? Too funny!

    I used to go to Happy Hour when I lived in California, mostly for the free food. I didn’t have much money then, and could get a meal for the price of a couple of beers.

    Comment by Jack Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 7:40 pm

  52. Yes - so we can return to the days at the Midway Pub (which like too much of Springfield is now a parking lot) when we would have a table full of drafts ordered at 6:55 and then drink warm flat beer the remainder of the night while listening to Willie and Waylon on the jukebox.

    Comment by Just the Facts Tuesday, Nov 15, 11 @ 10:50 pm

  53. No. Obviously it is meant to encourage gambling as Illinois expands it’s reliance on gaming enterprises.

    Comment by Das Man Wednesday, Nov 16, 11 @ 5:58 am

  54. The happy hours across the river in St. Louis are fantastic. I would never drink again in Missouri if Illinois had happy hour specials. Smoke free environment + happy hour specials = happy people and more tax revenue.

    Comment by East Sider Wednesday, Nov 16, 11 @ 10:02 am

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