Licensing changes will affect all stores selling alcohol

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - A new licensing system brought on by the passage of State Question 792 could prevent some gas stations and convenience stores from being able to legally sell beer come October.

Right now, there are two different licenses that stores need to sell alcohol. There's a license to sell 3.2 percent beer, and a license to sell all other alcohol. Come October 1, there will only be one license to sell any alcohol, which can take more than two months to get. So, if businesses aren't thinking ahead, they will be unable to sell alcohol, including beer.

Todd Anthony is a Senior Agent with the Oklahoma Able Commission. He said currently, all licenses to sell 3.2 percent beer is given through the city or county the store is in, while all licenses for liquor and wine are done through the state.

"The easiest example is a convenience store, which doesn't sell liquor in the state of Oklahoma. In the past, they've had their 3-2 license, which is possibly a county license, possibly a city license. What they need to do now is if they choose to sell beer or choose to sell wine, they'll need to apply for those types of licenses through the state," Anthony said.

But when October 1st rolls around, stores won't simply be able to get a license overnight. Anthony said it currently takes about 60 days to get a license and he expects that number to get even higher.

"There's now going to be thousands of places applying," Anthony said. "That times going to extend just because there's only so much manpower, only so many hours in the day. If you're looking at October 1st, maybe start talking to the ABLE Commission this summer about what you need to do. Get your stuff filled out by maybe June and have it ready to turn in either late June or early July. That way it's going through the process already and you can get towards the front of the line."

In addition to the new license, every store employee working a register will also need to have a license.

"The easiest way to put this it is anybody selling, mixing or serving, in a convenience store or one of these new businesses will need to be licensed by the ABLE Commission. It's not necessarily everybody, it's just the people selling. If you have someone who never works the cash register in the convenience store, are they really going to be required to have a license? No," Anthony said.

Anthony said they don't want to hurt anyone's sales, but if businesses don't plan ahead, when October 1st rolls around they can find themselves unable to legally sell any kind of alcohol. If they decide to sell anyways, it could bring criminal charges, which could result in them being unable to ever obtain a license to sell again.

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