ST. PAUL, Minn. — In a recent effort to ensure compliance with Minnesota alcohol and gambling laws, agents from the Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (DPS-AGED), along with the Gambling Control Board (GCB) conducted random checks of 39 bars around the state during a two-month period. No violations were found in 80 percent of the establishments.
The random checks were conducted in Winona (15 establishments), Mankato (10 establishments) and St. Cloud (14 establishments).
Out of the 39 bars, AGED agents discovered minor infractions in seven of the establishments that included:
- Contaminated product.
- Illegal play of pull-tabs by employees.
- An illegal raffle.
- Serving of “mystery” shots, which are prohibited by law.
- Pull-tab inventory not up to date.
Liquor Contamination Common, Preventable
Contamination is one of the more frequently found violations in the alcohol industry. Contaminated liquor most commonly contains fly-like insects or bottles that have been tampered with and the product diluted. To avoid contamination, establishments should cover liquor bottles with a secured lid or use covered or screened pour spouts.
Education Before Enforcement
The random compliance checks focused on liquor license inspections that include required license postings, records and receipts, and checking the purity of alcohol. DPS-AGED agents also reviewed legal gambling activities, such as pull-tabs, and investigated any potentially illegal sports betting.
No fines or citations were issued during the checks. AGED’s mission is to educate establishments about the importance of serving alcohol responsibly and legally, and to help bars prevent illegal gambling.
“We are very pleased that most establishments were in compliance during our bar checks,” said Michele Tuchner, director of DPS-AGED. “This shows that establishments are taking their responsibility to serve alcohol and conduct gambling activities seriously. Even though the infractions found in 20 percent of the establishments were minor and teachable moments, it shows that there is still work to be done.”
- Establishments need to know that football boards and other sports betting boards for pay are illegal and considered gambling.
- Outside of licensed charitable organizations, gambling that consists of consideration, chance and prize is illegal. Removing one of those three elements make the activity legal.
- Establishments that host licensed charitable gambling, such as pull-tabs, can risk losing their license if football boards or other illegal gambling is conducted on the premises.
Serving Alcohol Responsibly and Legally
Nearly one-in-five traffic fatalities among 16- to 20-year-olds are drunk driving-related. It is critical that those who serve alcohol refuse service to anyone under 21.
- AGED reminds establishments to ID every customer ordering alcohol every time.
- Criminal charges and civil lawsuits can be filed against establishments and servers for both over-service and underage service.
- It is illegal for a liquor establishment to permit any person under the age of 21 to drink alcohol on the licensed premises.
- It is illegal for a licensed retailer to provide alcohol to a minor. If the minor suffers great bodily harm or death as a result of intoxication, the provider can be charged with a felony.
Signs of Intoxication
Establishments should educate servers on monitoring signs of impairment and stop serving customers when those signs become apparent. Signs include:
- Loss of coordination.
- Impaired judgment.
- Reaction time is affected.
- Inhibitions become relaxed.
- Slurred speech.
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety (DPS)
DPS comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division
DPS-AGED monitors the alcohol industry, issues both alcohol and gambling licenses, and approves regulatory practices. It provides technical and field assistance to businesses and local units of government. It conducts background investigations and criminal investigations relating to alcohol and lawful gambling, the Minnesota Lottery, pari-mutuel horse racetracks and card rooms, and tribal reservation gambling.
Additionally, the division enforces laws pertaining to illegal gambling such as sports bookmaking and other illegal gambling activities. It initiates enforcement actions, resolves and mediates complaints on liquor and gambling violations. It conducts formal hearings on violators, and provides forums for discussion and resolution of liquor and gambling issues.
In 2014, DPS-AGED Activities Included:
- Gambling agents conducted 152 criminal investigations.
- 90 Tribal State compact compliance inspections.
- 12 Corporate background and licensing investigations for AGED, GCB and MRC.
- 1,402 investigations regarding alcohol complaints.
- 843 pre-license alcohol inspections.