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Small bar liquor laws open for comment

Liquor & Gaming NSW has announced that it is inviting feedback from the public and members of the industry as part of a review of small bar liquor laws.

There are only fifty venues across NSW that currently operate under a small bar licence, which restricts them to a maximum of 60 patrons, while offering many an automatic 2am trading option. Additionally, small bars cannot provide gaming or take-away alcohol sales.

The review is seeking feedback on the small bar laws, including licence requirements, factors affecting uptake of the licence, and positive and negative impacts.

The small bar liquor laws were first introduced back in 2013 to “encourage investment in smaller, lower-risk venues that help provide more diverse entertainment options and appeal to clients wanting a quiet night out in a more intimate setting”.

The laws have, however, faced criticism from the bar industry for being too restrictive – many operators maintain that a venue with less than 120 capacity is near impossible to turn a decent profit in, making the laws redundant as an investment incentive.

According to Liquor & Gaming NSW, the Government will consider the review’s results in determining future policy directions in relation to small bars.

Written submissions will be accepted until 13 July 2016. Submissions can be emailed to smallbars.review@olgr.nsw.gov.au.

Short surveys are available for licensees and members of the public to provide feedback, and an information paper is also available at www.liquorandgaming.justice.nsw.gov.au.

Image: Moya’s Juniper Lounge, which operates under a small bar licence in Sydney’s Redfern.

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