News

Chicago's ban on video poker games costs state, city 

Monday, February 27, 2012 2:15:04 PM
Emanuel continues to push for casino
By Bill Ruthhart, Chicago Tribune reporter
February 27, 2012
If Chicago's ban on video poker remains in place, Illinois would lose $63 million to $118 million per year in potential revenue, state forecasts show.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has lobbied for a Chicago casino but has said little about overturning the city's ban. He opposed legalizing video poker in the city during his campaign.
"The mayor has no plans to revisit the city's ban on video gaming at this time," said Tarrah Cooper, Emanuel's press secretary.
When asked if Gov. Pat Quinn was pushing for Chicago to overturn its ban, his spokeswoman, Brooke Anderson, said: "The governor believes that's up to the people of Chicago."
Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, an author of the video poker law, said if the Legislature granted Chicago a casino, the city could address all aspects of its gambling laws at once. But Lang also said the state's Video Gaming Act allows communities to take 5 percent of the profits the games generate locally.
"The city of Chicago needs revenue, and now that video gaming is legal, I would think Chicago would give it some consideration," Lang said. "I can't say whether the mayor would use video gaming as leverage for a casino or not, but I can say it would make sense for them to want to address all gaming issues at once."
Ald.Patrick O'Connor, 40th, the mayor's council floor leader, said the city has not taken up video poker, "because it took the state so long to get its rules, regulations and policies in place."
O'Connor said the city prefers to have a land-based casino and if the Legislature were to allow one in the city, the council then could "determine whether there is enough gaming for our communities, which I think is a separate question at that point."
According to state projections, Chicago's share of video poker proceeds could be $10 million to $20 millionevery year. O'Connor doubted that would be enough to motivate the city to legalize the games.
"I think every dollar counts," he said, but from the beginning, city officials have "thought the trade-off perhaps wasn't worth the paycheck."
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Video poker by September no sure bet 

Monday, February 27, 2012 2:08:10 PM
Games could be running late this year, but plenty of hurdles remain
 
By Bill Ruthhart, Chicago Tribune reporter
February 27, 2012
The first video poker machines in Illinois to legally pay winners could be plugged in as soon as September, but only if gaming officials overcome steep staffing shortages to approve thousands of licenses.
Even when the games are finally running after nearly three years of delays, more than 35 percent of the state's population live in areas where the games remain illegal, a Tribune analysis has found.
That's because 77 communities have voted to ban the games since the law passed, and Chicago appears unlikely to overturn its existing prohibition on gambling machines —which together could cost the state nearly $200 million in revenue, projections show.
But before any money is made, there are plenty of hurdles to clear, the Tribune found. Among them:
•The Illinois Gaming Board has completed its review of only 46 of 144 license applications received from manufacturers, distributors and "terminal operators" — the owners of the games who will place them in establishments.
•Gaming officials have yet to accept applications from thousands of bars, restaurants, truck stops and fraternal organizations that plan to offer the games, or to start investigations needed to approve those licenses.
•Game manufacturers have yet to be given final technical specifications from the state and still must have their games tested by independent laboratories to ensure they meet state law.
Complicating the work is the fact that the Gaming Board's staff is more than one-third smaller than it should be, said board Chairman Aaron Jaffe, leaving him reluctant to offer a hard timeline for when video poker finally will start making the state money.
The board's official position is that the games will be available by the third or fourth quarter of this year, but the year's end is a safer bet for the rollout, experts say.
The uncertainty hasn't deterred manufacturers, operators, lawyers and some bar owners from working to out-maneuver each other to cash in on the gambling gold rush, with a flurry of agreements inked — or at least shaken on — daily.
"It's been very cutthroat," said Zack Stamp, a lobbyist with the Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association, which represents video poker machine owners. "These guys are doing whatever they can to get their deals."
Board blames staffing
Before the deals, there was plenty of waiting.
The Illinois General Assembly passed the Video Gaming Act in May 2009, legalizing up to five video poker machines at truck stops, fraternal organizations and establishments that hold a liquor license.
Before the law, bars were allowed to have so-called gray games — video poker machines that were legal for amusement only but were also often known to pay illegal cash jackpots. More than 66,000 of those machines were scattered statewide, according to a legislative estimate. Those machines were supposed to be removed.
Under the measure, video poker games will have to be licensed with the state, which will be entitled to 25 percent of the game's net profits. The money is slated to help fund billions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects. Local communities will receive 5 percent of the revenue, while operators and establishments will split the rest.
Soon after Gov. Pat Quinn signed the legislation, a court challenge made its fate uncertain until the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the law in July.
While video poker stalled in court, it also faced delays at the Gaming Board, the state agency responsible for regulating the games.
The board had limited manpower to focus on the budding industry, because until July its primary task was opening a new casino in Des Plaines. Gaming officials also made an error in bidding out a crucial video poker contract.
Gaming officials signed a contract in June 2010 for a central computer system capable of monitoring up to 60,000 video poker games in the state, but had to void that deal because of errors in the bidding process.
After rebidding the work, officials signed a contract last month with Alpharetta, Ga.-based Scientific Games International that could net the company up to $400 million over 10 years, depending on poker revenue.
Industry experts viewed that deal as crucial.
"Until that contract was signed, I was doubtful for a while this would ever happen in Illinois," said Elaine Hodgson, president and CEO of Incredible Technologies, an Arlington Heights-based gaming firm that has begun manufacturing its first line of video poker games, which will be unveiled in Illinois.
"There was a lot of wasted time with the delays. ... Now, it's real talk about real deals."
Jaffe said the computer system is expected tobe finished by September, but the number of license applicants approved by then will depend on the board's ability to hire.
The Gaming Board has 225 employees, which Jaffe said is far shy of the 350 the Legislature funded for it to regulate casinos and video poker.
Jaffe said some positions are in various stages of the state's long hiring process, which he said can take six months to a year, while others have not been given the go-ahead from Quinn's administration.
"If we had the 350 bodies we're supposed to, I could tell you we'd have this wrapped up by a particular date," he said. "But when you don't know who you will have to do what and when, there is no way to know when we'll be ready."
In response, Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said, "We have worked and will continue to work with the Gaming Board to ensure they have appropriate staffing."
'Wild West' deals
As the Gaming Board struggles with staffing, gambling manufacturers, distributors and operators have jockeyed for position in a fresh marketplace.
Some of the industry's large Las Vegas manufacturers, such as Bally Gaming, American Gaming Systems and International Game Technology, are retrofitting machines for Illinois, gambling observers said. That work includes setting wagering limits to $2 and payouts to $500 to comply with state law.
Other companies are developing new games for Illinois. Most offer multiple versions of poker and slots with as many as 15 types of games on one machine.
Brentwood, Tenn.-based Video Gaming Technologies has built its Vegas Jackpots game specifically for Illinois, said James Starr, the company's senior vice president of sales. He said delays in the state's rollout gave the company more time to develop its product, but also hurt its bottom line.
"We have absorbed more costs than we expected without any revenue," Starr said.
As operators receive licenses, they have started signing deals with manufacturers and securing loans, said Cory Aronovitz, whose Casino Law Group in Chicago handles licensing applications and contracts for about 35 operators and 150 locations.
Aronovitz said 75 percent of his operators have deals with manufacturers, but none has hired employees to deliver the games or collect their revenue. Establishment owners, he said, aren't doing much.
"From a bar, tavern, VFW, truck stop perspective, no one is making any investments or making any improvements to their bar to make room for the games," said Aronovitz, also an adjunct professor of gambling law at the John Marshall Law School.
"They're just waiting."
Gaming officials have posted notices, reminding establishment owners that there are no deadlines to securing agreements with operators. Gene O'Shea, a Gaming Board spokesman, said several operators falsely have told establishments they have licenses.
"All this time caused by the delays has allowed people out there to try to capitalize on what's coming in unscrupulous ways," said Stamp, the video poker lobbyist. "The sooner this business is up, licensed and running, the sooner that Wild West stuff ends."
Several video poker operators contacted by the Tribune declined to discuss their business, citing a fear to speak publicly because they have licenses pending before the state or could face future inspections.
One Chicago-area operator, who asked not to be identified, said he has had difficulty reaching deals with bar owners, some of whom he has worked with for 20 years, supplying jukeboxes and pool tables.
"There has been a total lack of information and communication from the Gaming Board. The bar owners don't know what they'll be allowed to do," he said. "They've had so many people walking bar to bar, offering them games and trying to get them contracts that they don't trust anything right now. They're afraid to do anything."
The operator said he already has paid $10,000 in state fees and $15,000 in legal costs.
The games, he said, are going to cost $15,000 to $20,000 each, and heestimated spending another $10,000 to $15,000 on required security, cameras, vaults and cages to house machines.
"All of this before I make a dime," he said, estimating it will take three years before he will turn a profit. "Plus, so many cities have opted out and don't want the games and Chicago still can't have them, so even if everything goes through, there won't be as much money to go around for us as everyone thought."
Local bans to cut state's take
Most of the 77 communities banning video poker are in suburban Chicago. Add to that Chicago's prohibition on gambling machines, which predates the video poker law, and 4.7 million of the state's 12.8 million people live in areas that have outlawed the games.
That doesn't include Cook, Lake, DuPage and McHenry counties, which have banned the games in unincorporated areas.
Estimates from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability show the bans could cost the state $104.5 million to $192 million in revenue per year.
When the video poker law passed, the state was projected to earn $288 million to $534 million from 45,000 to 65,000 machines. With the bans factored in, that estimate ranges from $184 million to $342 million generated from 28,845 to 41,665 gaming terminals.
But Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, who was an author of the video poker bill, called those revenue numbers conservative and predicted the games would still generate $300 million to $400 million per year, which he said is consistent with the amount forecast to fund capital projects.
Whether video poker is rolled out fairly is more of a concern to Lang.
The Gaming Board has yet to accept applications from locations that will offer the games, and though that process will be handled online, Lang said he is worried the state will start video poker before everyone is licensed.
"I don't want a bar on one corner with all its machines going," he said, "but the one across the street can't get them yet."
Lang said a date should be set and all applications received by that deadline should be vetted before the games go live.
"When you have got thousands of people to license, somebody is going to get theirs ahead of somebody else," said Jaffe, the Gaming Board chief. As long as location owners don't have questionable backgrounds, their licenses shouldn't be held up long, he said.
Aronovitz, the gambling lawyer, recommended the board roll out licensing regionally, allowing for a more orderly process.
Just as bars and other locations are concerned about being licensed by the time video poker starts up, manufacturers are worried about their games getting approved by the state's independent testing lab.
"This is going to be a Le Mans start where all of a sudden everyone is going to have video gaming," said Hodgson, CEO of Incredible Technologies.
"Who gets their machines out first will win, and that's going to be the big deal."
 
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ABL Urges Congress to Reject Federal Transportation Mandates on States 

Friday, February 24, 2012 2:02:41 PM
 
“One-size-fits-all” drunk driving policies may undermine current progress
 
January 31, 2012 – Bethesda, MD – With the release of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Transportation Reauthorization bill today, American Beverage Licensees (ABL) urges Congress to reject unfunded mandates that force state governments to adopt one-size-fits-all drunk driving policies as such actions may undermine the steady progress that is being made in the fight against drunk driving.
 
Federal legislation that calls for sanctions on states that do not adopt mandatory ignition interlock laws for all offenders fails to take into account what many states have recognized: The simple passage of laws to reduce drunk driving-caused deaths and injuries cannot work without proper implementation and monitoring. Even in the states where mandatory interlock laws have been passed, compliance rates are very low, and the monitoring of offenders is scarce. Compliance and enforcement remain critical components when dealing with hardcore and repeat drunk drivers and ensuring that technology is installed and used.
 
“Beverage retailers understand that successfully confronting drunk driving remains a challenge for those of us who are working to see its demise,” said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich.  “But cookie-cutter federal mandates ignore the proper role of the criminal justice system and fail to incorporate a comprehensive approach tailored to each offender based on their needs and dependency.”
 
Preventing judges and courts from using discretion in how they adjudicate drunk driving cases would weaken efforts to monitor hardcore drunk drivers and other high-risk offenders.  This is to say nothing of the conservatively-estimated $400 million that this unfunded mandate would cost states and local governments, according to the American Probation and Parole Association.  It also disregards ongoing efforts by states to vigorously enforce existing laws and the results those efforts are yielding.
 
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010 Americans travelled approximately 46 billion more miles by car than they did in 2009, but roadway fatalities fell to their lowest-recorded numbers since 1949.  Highway fatalities that involved drunk drivers fell 4.9 percent in 2010.
 
“While the drop in fatalities last year and over the past several decades is welcome news, we know there is more work to be done,” said Bodnovich.  “That’s why beverage retailers will continue to support the efforts of state legislatures and the judicial system to better protect their communities from drunk driving through graduated sentencing, including required ignition interlocks for hardcore and repeat offenders, and other permanent approaches that address recidivism.”
 
Long-term solutions to drunk driving cannot rely on technology alone, and federal policy that does not address recidivism or distinguish between the dependencies of individual offenders is not the long-term solution that the country deserves. 
 
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Bars, restaurants pour Asian-style cocktails in pitchers 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 3:08:22 PM
Source: NRN
By James Scarpa
February 17, 2012
The made-for-you craft cocktail is the face of modern mixology. But there seems to be a growing role for libations that promise a more communal experience. Batch-mixed cocktails served in pitchers are a hospitable way to encourage the sharing of sips while streamlining service and enhancing consistency.
Take the Pub Mixers line of Asian-inspired cocktails at Tokio Pub in Schaumburg, Ill. Offered by the drink or by the pitcher, they are partially pre-batched prior to service, making them the quickest cocktails to serve, as well as some of the most popular.
One of the five cocktails is the Ginger Mojito, made with white rum, ginger-infused syrup, ginger liqueur, fresh mint and lime. The liquors and syrup are prepped in advance in two-gallon batches. The fresh mint and lime are added just before service because their flavor fades when held.
"We have found that the Pub Mixers actually taste better when made in big batches than they do made to order," said Jill Koval, general manager of the casual eatery, which is part of the Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises restaurant group.
Also popular in pitchers are the Passion Punch, made with citron-flavored vodka, pomegranate-flavored liqueur and tropical fruit juices, served with a skewer of robata-grilled pineapple and raspberry for garnish; and the Yuzu Margarita, made with silver tequila, orange liqueur and Asian citrus juice, served with a glass rimmed with powdered ginger and salt.
"The great thing about them, besides the taste, is how fast you can get the drink to the guest," Koval said. "You can almost knock out two to three rounds of drinks at once. That means less running around with multiple drink orders, and it keeps the bar from getting behind."
"We started out being small-plates driven, and we wanted to take the idea of sharing a step further so people could share drinks as well as food together," Koval added. "You know, 'Let's order some sushi and let's get a pitcher of Sake Sangria and Yuzu Margaritas.'"
Pitchers of that sort fall into a loosely defined category of batch-mixed drinks that many mixologists are experimenting with today, including punches, barrel-aged cocktails and cocktails on draft, said wine and spirits consultant Steven Olson of AKA Wine Geek in New York City.
But he warned that batched drinks aren't always a huge success.
"It's kind of a mixed bag," said Olson. "They all can work, but I think a lot of it depends upon the bar. In certain circumstances they can be great, in others, not so much."
Olson said he developed batch-mixing techniques years ago to serve high-quality drinks made with fresh ingredients and premium liquors to large crowds at parties and educational events where mixing to order would be difficult.
"Say we have a party of 50 coming in for Smoky Daisies," Olson said. "I will make up a couple of gallons with the tequila, the mescal, the fresh lime, the agave nectar and the Grand Marnier, but I will still shake each drink over fresh ice."
He said that for batched cocktails to succeed, bartenders should apply the same standards of high-quality ingredients and techniques they would with made-to-order drinks.
"It's not like walking into a Mexican restaurant and getting a pitcher of [machine-dispensed] margaritas," Olson said. "It has to be hand crafted."
 
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Vodka can boost problem solving and creativity, finds study 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 10:42:29 AM
Source: NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
BY JOE GREENE
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
I could probably do a better job writing this story if I had consumed some vodka first.
Scientists from the University of Chicago concluded in a recent study that men who are under the influence, but also not legally drunk, were faster and more creative in solving word association problems than men who were sober.
The study, published online in Consciousness and Cognition on Jan. 28, said that sober men approached the task more deliberately, according to psychology graduate student Andrew Jarosz.
This could be why many musicians and artists claim to be more creative after imbibing, researcher Jennifer Wiley was quoted as saying on Gizmodo.com.
"A composer or artist fixated on previous work may indeed find creative benefits from intoxication," Wiley said.
In the study, two groups of 20 social drinkers were asked to perform a creative problem-solving task, according to an article on the study in sciencenews.org, and the results from both groups were comparable.
Then, both groups watched an animated movie. The volunteers in one of the groups ate a snack and drank enough of a vodka cranberry drink to bring their blood alcohol level just under the 0.08 percent legal limit; the other group of volunteers didn't eat or drink.
Both groups then took part in another creative problem-solving task. Those with a buzz solved more questions on average, and did so in less time, than those who were clear-headed.
The results of the study support findings of a group at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Psychologist J. Scott Saults' team related that individuals under the influence become less afraid to make mistakes, which could increase creativity, sciencenews.org reported.
So drink up, and start writing.
 
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Neighborhood taverns disappear from Chicago, other cities 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 11:52:24 AM

 

Source: USA Today
By Judy Keen
Feb 13th
CHICAGO - What used to be Johnnie's Lounge is empty now, though a fading Hamm's Beer sign still hangs over its locked door. Paulie's Place is vacant. So is the spot once occupied by Max Tavern. The building that housed Lawry's Tavern starting in 1937 is now home to a more upscale bar.
Neighborhood taverns, which for generations were cornerstones of Chicago's ethnic communities, are being squeezed out by the economy, gentrification, changing tastes and city regulations that make it more difficult to operate in residential areas.
"Hopefully they won't disappear," says Scott Martin, owner of Simon's Tavern, which has served patrons in Andersonville, once a Swedish enclave, since 1934. It's a cliché, says Martin, 51, but "it's great to go someplace where everybody knows your name."
It's still possible to find old-school taverns that cater to neighborhoods and serve inexpensive beverages, says Sean Parnell, who wrote the 2010 book Historic Bars of Chicago and runs the Chicago Bar Project, chibarproject.com, which chronicles the city's bar scene and tracks the demise of such spots.
"There aren't many of them around anymore," he says. "You really can't get a tavern license in areas that have regentrified . and the costs for licensing and insurance have really gone up."
Bob Smerch closed Sterch's - which combined his name with that of a partner named Stern - a couple of years ago with great reluctance after 38 years in business. "It was a neighborhood joint where everybody knew everybody," says Smerch, 70. "It's illegal to run tabs in Chicago, but I've heard that they ran tabs there to a fault."
"I miss it horribly," he says. "People want bars now that focus on 20- or 30-year-olds and are so different from the ones that were."
A place to go
In the days before television, people - mostly men - sought diversions in neighborhood taverns, says Michael Ebner, history professor emeritus at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Ill., a Chicago suburb. "There was a degree of camaraderie there and a sense of neighborliness as well," he says. "The social bonds that evolved . were quite enduring."
Home-cooked meals often were available at taverns, which became hubs of political activity and, eventually, places to watch sports events on TV. "The tradition lives on, but in sharply diminished proportion," Ebner says.
Some cities celebrate old-fashioned taverns. The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation organizes tours of local drinking spots, says Arthur Ziegler, the foundation's president. About 50 people participated in the December outing of the Society of Tavern Seekers. Many taverns are unknown even to Pittsburgh residents and retain historical architecture and signage. "It's all very appealing," he says.
In Buffalo, Marty Biniasz and Eddy Dobosiewicz founded Forgotten Buffalo, which leads tours of local sites, including pubs. "The neighborhood tavern became an oasis" for men who worked in steel mills and other factories, Biniasz says. A resurgence in interest is being driven by young people who "are looking for authenticity and are rediscovering there's a real heart and soul in these places," he says.
Licenses hard to come by
In 1990, about 3,300 Chicago establishments had tavern licenses allowing them to serve alcoholic beverages; places that also offer live entertainment, charge admission or serve food as a primary source of business require different or additional licenses.
The number diminished as city leaders sought closure of bars that prompted police calls or complaints from neighbors, and since 2009, the number of tavern licenses has held steady at about 1,200.
There are about 5,000 businesses in the city that sell alcohol, including package goods stores, taverns, clubs and restaurants.
Opening or buying a tavern in Chicago can be complicated, says Mike Costanzo, a real estate broker with Jameson Commercial. Aldermen can seek liquor license moratoriums in areas as small as two blocks, and buyers are required to purchase the corporate entity that owns an existing tavern and license, he says.
"Getting a new tavern license issued in a residential neighborhood is brutal," Costanzo says. "It's virtually impossible."
Ebner hopes Chicago's remaining taverns can survive. If people stay home instead of patronizing neighborhood pubs, he says, "it really fosters a sense of personal isolation."
Martin says the survival of the city's sense of community is at stake. When he bought Simon's Tavern 17 years ago, he found a shoebox containing $80,000 in IOUs. When a longtime patron died, he and his other customers gave the man, who had no family, a funeral.
When he was growing up in the neighborhood, Martin says, there were 15 bars on the street where Simon's Tavern is located. "They're all gone," he says.
 
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Congress Pushes Interlocks for All Offenders 

Thursday, February 02, 2012 9:08:11 AM
Congress Pushes Interlocks for All Offenders
Source: American Beverage Institute
Jan 31st
The activist campaign to expand the use of ignition interlock devices is quickly escalating. Both House Republicans and Senate Democrats have announced legislation to provide monetary incentives for states to pass laws mandating ignition interlocks for low-BAC, first-offenders.
Rep. John Mica (R-FL), Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, plans to unveil the House Highway Bill today. The bill, HR 7, would require all 50 states to mandate ignition interlock devices for every individual convicted of drunk driving in order for the state to receive federal highway funding grants. To view a state by state analysis of potential federal funding losses, click here.
HR 7 will receive consideration tomorrow (February 1) in two House committees. A similar interlock mandate has been included in the Senate's version of the highway reauthorization bill, S 1449, which has passed committee and awaits further action by the Senate. The bill, S 1449, also includes $24 million in funding for the federal research program (DADSS) that is developing alcohol detection devices for installation in all cars.
This legislation isn't intended to actually reduce drunk driving fatalities. Instead of focusing on the repeat offenders and high-BAC drunk drivers who cause the vast majority of drunk driving fatalities, activists and policymakers are shifting the focus to the social drinker. Policymakers are well aware that the average BAC of a driver involved in a fatal alcohol-impaired crash is .19 percent-more than twice the legal limit. But by creating a highly publicized federal law requiring an ignition interlock even if you are just a sip over the legal limit, anti-alcohol activists hope that fewer people will assume the risk of having anything to drink before getting behind the wheel. Such a law would be an effective deterrent from social drinking: not only is it embarrassing to have to blow into a device to start your vehicle, but a DUI conviction and installation of an ignition interlock device costs an individual thousands of dollars. For most customers, enjoying a beer or two with dinner is not worth the social and financial costs of installing an interlock.
We know from experience that highly publicized penalties for low-BAC, first-offenders pose a dire threat to on-premise sales. In British Columbia, for instance, restaurant sales dropped by 15 percent after the province enacted harsh penalties for first-time drunk drivers. And after the state passed a strict interlock law for first offenders, restaurants in Arizona experienced a significant loss in beverage sales. These harsher penalties make customers hesitant to purchase even one or two drinks out of fear of the new law.
ABI issued a release denouncing federal law to expand interlock use. The release emphasizes that low-BAC, first-offender mandates are incredibly expensive for states and they fail to target the high-BAC and hardcore drunk drivers who cause the majority of drunk driving fatalities. ABI will continue to fight this sweeping interlock expansion by engaging the media and contacting key lawmakers.
This latest piece of legislation only underscores the need for the hospitality industry to unite against the neoprohibitionist plan to eliminate social drinking. We encourage you to share this information and our ABI websites, www.TheNewProhibition.com and www.InterlockFacts.com with your colleagues who might be affected by a drastic reduction in on-premise alcohol consumption and to tell Congress about your opposition to this bill.
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ABL Urges Congress  

Thursday, February 02, 2012 9:06:55 AM
ABL Urges Congress to Reject Federal Transportation Mandates on States
"One-size-fits-all" drunk driving policies may undermine current progress
Source: ABL
January 31, 2012
With the release of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Transportation Reauthorization bill today, American Beverage Licensees (ABL) urges Congress to reject unfunded mandates that force state governments to adopt one-size-fits-all drunk driving policies as such actions may undermine the steady progress that is being made in the fight against drunk driving.
Federal legislation that calls for sanctions on states that do not adopt mandatory ignition interlock laws for all offenders fails to take into account what many states have recognized: The simple passage of laws to reduce drunk driving-caused deaths and injuries cannot work without proper implementation and monitoring. Even in the states where mandatory interlock laws have been passed, compliance rates are very low, and the monitoring of offenders is scarce. Compliance and enforcement remain critical components when dealing with hardcore and repeat drunk drivers and ensuring that technology is installed and used.
"Beverage retailers understand that successfully confronting drunk driving remains a challenge for those of us who are working to see its demise," said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich. "But cookie-cutter federal mandates ignore the proper role of the criminal justice system and fail to incorporate a comprehensive approach tailored to each offender based on their needs and dependency."
Preventing judges and courts from using discretion in how they adjudicate drunk driving cases would weaken efforts to monitor hardcore drunk drivers and other high-risk offenders. This is to say nothing of the conservatively-estimated $400 million that this unfunded mandate would cost states and local governments, according to the American Probation and Parole Association. It also disregards ongoing efforts by states to vigorously enforce existing laws and the results those efforts are yielding.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010 Americans travelled approximately 46 billion more miles by car than they did in 2009, but roadway fatalities fell to their lowest-recorded numbers since 1949. Highway fatalities that involved drunk drivers fell 4.9 percent in 2010.
"While the drop in fatalities last year and over the past several decades is welcome news, we know there is more work to be done," said Bodnovich. "That's why beverage retailers will continue to support the efforts of state legislatures and the judicial system to better protect their communities from drunk driving through graduated sentencing, including required ignition interlocks for hardcore and repeat offenders, and other permanent approaches that address recidivism."
Long-term solutions to drunk driving cannot rely on technology alone, and federal policy that does not address recidivism or distinguish between the dependencies of individual offenders is not the long-term solution that the country deserves.
 
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Starbucks expands wine and beer sales to Ga., Ill., Calif. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012 2:36:53 PM
Source: USA Today
By Stephen Brashear
Jan 24th
Starbucks, the company that proved there's no such thing as paying too much for a cup of coffee, is expanding its experiment with wine and beer.
The company said Monday that it will start selling wine, beer and "premium" foods, like small plates and hot flatbread sandwiches, at four to six stores in Atlanta and another four to six in southern California by the end of the year. That builds on the company's recent announcement of the same plans for about half a dozen stores in Chicago.
Starbucks first tested the wine and beer concept at a store in its headquarters city of Seattle in October 2010. It now serves beer and wine at five stores in Seattle and one in Portland, Ore.
The company hasn't released numbers on whether the new drinks have increased traffic, but it says the change has been popular with customers.
Wine and beer lists will differ by region. The stores in Washington state and Oregon serve Dead Guy Ale and Stella Artois lager, among other drinks.
The coffee giant says the alcoholic offerings, which won't be available until the afternoon, will help it attract evening customers and expand its appeal to community groups and book clubs looking for space to meet.
It could also be a way to attract higher-end customers, a tack many companies are taking as the middle class is squeezed by the weak economy. Starbucks said in a news release that it selected stores "where it is relevant for the neighborhood."
 
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10 Surprising Health Benefits of Beer 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 9:48:53 AM
Source: Yahoo Health
By Lisa Collier Cool
Jan 09, 2012
Beer drinkers rejoice: Your favorite brew may be healthier than you think.
For years, wine drinkers have indulged without guilt, reveling in the news that red wine can help protect against heart disease. Recent research shows that beer can also be good for what ails you, from reducing risk for broken bones to helping warding off diabetes and mental decline. It can even increase longevity, a large study suggests.
However, the key to tapping into beer's benefits is moderation, meaning just one 12-ounce beer per day for women and two for men. Heavy drinking ups the threat of liver damage, some cancers, and heart problems. Bingeing on brewskis can also make you fat, since a 12-ounce regular beer has about 150 calories, while light beer has about 100.
Read about common diet myths that are dangerous to your health
Here are 10 surprising-and healthy-reasons to cheer about your next beer.
1. Stronger Bones
Beer contains high levels of silicon, which is linked to bone health. In a 2009 study at Tufts University and other centers, older men and women who swigged one or two drinks daily had higher bone density, with the greatest benefits found in those who favored beer or wine. However, downing more than two drinks was linked to increased risk for fractures.
For the best bone-building benefits, reach for pale ale, since a 2010 study of 100 types of beer from around the word identified these brews as richest in silicon, while light lagers and non-alcoholic beers contained the least.
2. A Stronger Heart
A 2011 analysis of 16 earlier studies involving more than 200,000 people, conducted by researchers at Italy's Fondazion di Ricerca e Cura, found a 31 percent reduced risk of heart disease in those who quaffed about a pint of beer daily, while risk surged in those who guzzled higher amounts of alcohol, whether beer, wine, or spirits.
More than 100 studies also show that moderate drinking trims risk of heart attacks and dying from cardiovascular disease by 25 to 40 percent, Harvard reports. A beer or two a day can help raise levels of HDL, the "good" cholesterol that helps keep arteries from getting clogged.
 
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