LAWTON, OK (KSWO) – Drinking alcohol at Oklahoma movie theaters will soon be legal.
Governor Mary Fallin signed the proposal into law on Tuesday, which takes effect October 1st. Right now, alcohol can be served at movie theaters, but it has to be in a special section reserved for only those 21 and up. This law removes that restriction.
Vaska Theater owner Justin Hackney said he doesn't know why alcohol wasn't allowed at movies when it was allowed in other public venues.
"It doesn't make sense to hold theaters to more restrictions than a restaurant," Hackney said. "You can go into any restaurant that serves alcohol, whether it's a Chili's, Applebees or whatever. You can order a drink right there at your table, whether you have kids with you, have kids at the table next to you. It doesn't matter. Why shouldn't you be able to do the same at the theater."
Hackney said there are no restrictions on what kinds of alcohol can be sold in the theater, but said for the time being they plan on sticking simply to low-point beer. But, while it is legal at the state level, they can't start selling until they get their permits squared away at the City of Lawton level.
"There are code restrictions and things like that, permitting, they like to talk about the change of use of a venue," Hackney said. "Because you are adding low-point beer they say it's a change of use of a venue."
Hackney has been pushing for this law for nearly two years, going as far as calling every local representative as the bill made its way through the legislature, but he understands why some of his customers might be uncomfortable with it.
"You get a lot of backlash, people talking about we're going to have drunks next to our kids while we're watching a movie," Hackney said. "It's not about that. There's adult entertainment too, there are adult movies, there are adult shows, we do comedy but because we're a movie theater we had restrictions. We're not trying to serve drinks during Disney movies and things like that. It opens us up to a lot more types of entertainment."
In Lawton, the movie theater on Rogers Lane and the theater in Central Mall are both a part of the AMC chain. 7NEWS reached out to AMC's corporate office for a statement on the new law but did not receive anything back.