It’s no secret that it can be fairly easy to lose your liquor license or get fined if you’re not careful. In fact, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) conducts over 20,000 liquor license investigations a year. If you own a bar or restaurant, maintaining your liquor license is essential for keeping your doors open. And if you have slot machines in your venue, keeping your liquor license is even more important because you need it in order to maintain your gaming license.
Keep your business up and running with these tips on how to avoid liquor license fines so your license remains intact.
Keep your bar clean
One of the most common violations is due to contaminated liquor. Bottles should be kept closed and checked daily to ensure there are no fruit flies or other contaminants. You also can’t refill old bottles, even if it’s with the same brand of liquor. Any premixed drinks like margaritas need to be disposed of at least once a week, and the containers or systems used to hold them should be thoroughly cleaned. The same goes for your taps. Clean them as often as possible and be sure to keep a record of all cleanings.
Invest in an ID scanner
It shouldn’t be a shock that serving minors is a top violation. One of the best ways to avoid this fine is to place someone at the door to check IDs. Because technology has advanced so rapidly in recent years, it’s much easier to create convincing fake IDs. Investing in a scanner is a foolproof way to keep minors out. If a scanner is out of budget, be sure to train employees on how to spot a fake ID, such as checking the edges of the ID for peeling, looking for signs that the patron is nervous, or asking the person how to spell their middle name or tell you their zodiac sign.
Hire the right employees and train them well
In addition to training your employees on how to spot a fake ID, it’s imperative to hold regular training sessions with your staff on a variety of topics, including how to handle disorderly patrons, how to identify drunk patrons who should no longer be served, how to refuse a drink if a patron offers one (it’s a violation for staff to drink on the job), and how to de-escalate a tense and potentially violent situation. Obviously, all employees handling alcohol will also have to complete Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training.
Display the sign when in doubt
Another common violation is not displaying the proper signage. For starters, make sure you have the following signage clearly displayed in your venue: your State Liquor License, Illinois Business Tax Certificate, No Smoking sign, Pregnancy Warnings and video gaming signage.
Make sure happy hour promotions are legal
In addition to displaying the mandatory signage, be very careful about the promotional signage you display in your venue. You can be fined if the beverages advertised aren’t available and any happy hour signage should be reviewed by a compliance team. For instance, there are strict rules on offering samples, and you can’t give any alcoholic beverage away for free. The state of Illinois and your municipality likely have rules about running any BOGO or half-off promotions on alcohol as well, so be sure to check with legal counsel before setting up any deals.
To make sure your liquor license is safe, review the ILCC Rules and Regulations and the Illinois Liquor Control Act. If you are an Accel Entertainment partner, you can also ask your Relationship Manager for advice about liquor license fines and regulations or ask a question in the comments below.
Want to learn more about getting your liquor license in Illinois? Check out our guide here.