Boston, MA– The laws regarding traditional “vices” in Massachusetts have long been extremely confusing. I put vices in quotes because the taboos against drinking and smoking are not really taboos at all anymore. Now, it seems like the majority of people are in agreement that laws regarding alcohol, marijuana, and gambling, for example, should be a bit less...puritanical. Our state's founding as a religious society continues to rear its ugly head. It's hard to believe that as recently as 2003, liquor stores were closed on Sundays. So people could go to church? Actually, yeah, kind of. The Sunday ban on liquor sales dated back to the 1700s. The so-called "blue laws" were intended to prevent people from having too much fun on a Sunday.
But there is progress being made in Massachusetts. For every two steps forward, though, taken by the state, it seems like there is at least one step back, albeit minor steps, but still steps nonetheless. In recent years, legalization of gambling and marijuana have changed the landscape. But there are still examples of the state being finicky about the way they deal with liquor laws and liquor licenses.
A special exception was written into the state liquor laws to permit casinos to sell alcohol to active gaming participants until 4 a.m. in 2017, after lobbying by the MGM casino in Springfield. Yesterday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission approved the same special alcohol permit for Encore Boston Harbor, the new casino opening in Everett on June 23. Encore will also serve drinks on the gaming floor until 4 a.m. This makes Encore the latest "last call" in all of eastern Massachusetts. The exception is only granted to casinos, so don't get your hopes up for later last calls in Boston as a whole.
To me, it just seems unfortunate that this bit of progress was only made to benefit people still gambling at late hours, who of all of us, should probably just go to bed. Later serving licenses across the board would benefit Massachusetts' economy and bring us into the 21st century.
Just another odd and peculiar example of Massachusetts’ inexplicable liquor licensing rules. Don't get me started on the happy hour ban.