The state is looking to renegotiate its liquor distribution contract to help fill a $20 million hole in the 2013 state budget and stem losses resulting from Maine consumers' purchase of liquor across the border in New Hampshire.
The state has estimated that bar owners and others in Maine are buying as much as 584,000 cases of liquor in New Hampshire a year and reselling it in Maine, costing the state between $4 million and $11 million a year, according to MaineToday Media. It's legal for consumers to purchase small amounts of liquor for consumption in Maine, but illegal to buy large amounts, according to Gerry Reid, director of the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations. He said that hiring additional enforcement officers could help the problem, but said liquor prices in Maine should be lowered.
Maine is one of 19 so-called control states that oversees and regulates the sale of liquor, signing a $125 million, 10-year contract in 2004 with Maine Beverage Co. to distribute and sell liquor in Maine. The state gets about $23 million a year with the current contract, and Reid said he wants to increase that amount with a new contract. The state is looking to get new bids on the contract and approve it by 2013 to help balance the budget.