Massachusetts ‘pay-to-play’ probe steps up

The Boston Globe reports Massachusetts regulators have issued subpoenas — indicating the investigation into charges of “pay-to-play” that came to light last month is getting serious — to “breweries, beer distributors, and retailers for records to determine whether they are paying for, or demanding payments for, access to bar taps in pubs and restaurants and shelf space at stores.”

Dan Paquette of Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project kicked things off with a late night rant on Twitter. He wrote that two bars owned by the Wilcox Hospitality Group — Lower Depths and Bukowski Tavern — were asking brewers to pay in order to be put on the bars’ draft lines. Thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of words were exchanged on Twitter, in blogs, and on internet discussion boards in the next days.

“We’re looking at any and all forms of inducements,” Frederick Mahoney, chief investigator for the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, told the Globe. “This is ongoing, and this may not stop here.” He declined to identify which companies were under investigation.

A spokesman for Treasurer Steven Grossman, who oversees the ABCC, warned the agency was prepared to take “strong corrective measures” against any company that violates the state’s liquor control laws. Punishment for these types of violations could range from warnings to suspension of a company’s liquor license or even revocation.

The Globe report indicates many breweries have been contacted or received subpoenas and includes their reactions.

One Reply to “Massachusetts ‘pay-to-play’ probe steps up”

  1. Good. Maybe they’ll look into draft beer sales and systems as a whole. When was the last time your local place cleaned their beer lines!

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