Liquor License Cost Doubles As OLCC Seeks To Modernize

  The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) is doubling the cost of many licenses, raising prices for the first time since 1949. They are hoping to use the funds to bring their licensing process online, and expanding their sting operations to catch establishments serving underage people.  

The new prices will go into effect October 1, 2019. A full liquor license, what many restaurants and bars are required to purchase, will be $800, up from $400. Winery and brewery license fees will be $500 up from $250, and “all other fees” will also be doubled. Oregon had not raised these prices in decades, and although the price to Oregonians is twice as much, the new rates are in line with median prices across the country.   

OLCC, however, said that bringing prices in line with national averages was not what they intended from these price increases. The licensing fee increase is projected to raise $9 million between 2019-21, which they claim will go toward improving their process for upwards of 450 new applicants each year, and managing the licensing process for more than 18,000 existing licenses. 

The increase in sting operations is in response to an increase in the Legislature’s expected level of compliance from sellers of alcohol from 80 to 90 percent. The compliance rate is based on the number of sellers who actually ask the sting’s “minor decoy” for their ID and refuse to sell to them after learning they are underage. Recent sting operations in Eugene resulted in only a 76 percent compliance rate.  

OLCC’s revenue is projected to be over $1.5 billion between 2019-21, the third-largest generator of funds in the state. A large portion of this comes from its purview over the tax dollars from the legal marijuana industry.  

By Ian MacRonald