General FAQs


Financial interest and ownership

I heard there were changes to the laws regarding Financial Interest and Ownership.
What were they?

Legislation passed in 2009 permits financial interest between liquor manufacturers, distributors, and retailers under certain conditions. It is legal for an industry member to have a direct or indirect financial interest in another industry member or a retailer unless the interest has resulted in, or is more likely than not to result in:

  • Undue influence over the retailer or industry member; or
  • An adverse impact on public health and safety.

If a manufacturer or distributor is going into a new business with a retailer, it must create a new entity to hold the license of the new business.

What should I do if I think undue influence or an adverse impact on public health and safety has occurred?

  • You may file a complaint or request for determination with the WSLCB
  • The WSLCB may investigate and issue a violation or notice of intent to deny the license, or both; and
  • The WSLCB may require that a transaction be undone.


Branded promotional items

What is Money’s Worth?
Money’s worth is considered anything of value – directly or indirectly - given by a manufacturer/distributor to a retailer and vice versa (i.e. extension of credit, money, product, promotional items, etc.). Manufacturers/distributors and retailers cannot provide money’s worth to each other (see next question for an exception regarding branded promotional items of nominal value).

Can I provide branded promotional items of a nominal value to retailers?
Legislation passed in 2009 includes an exception to the Money’s Worth law that allows industry members to provide branded promotional items of a nominal value to retailers such as:

  • Trays, lighters, blotters, postcards, coasters, menu cards, meal checks, napkins, clocks, mugs, glasses, hats, visors, and similar items.

The items must be used exclusively by the retailer or the retailer’s employees in a manner consistent with the liquor license:

  • Items must bear imprinted matter of the industry member only;
  • Items may not be provided to retail customers; and
  • Items may not be targeted to or appeal principally to youth.

Is there a complaint process for this new exception?
Yes, any person may file a complaint with the WSLCB asserting undue influence or an adverse impact on public health or safety, or that the provision of the items is otherwise inconsistent with the requirements for the promotional items.

The WSLCB may investigate and issue a violation.


Three-Tier changes

Is the price post and hold requirement still in place?
No, the requirement for beer and wine suppliers and distributors to file prices with the WSLCB and hold the price for 30 days was removed in 2009. Suppliers and distributors must maintain price lists at their licensed locations.

Is the minimum mark-up requirement still in place?
No, the requirement that suppliers mark-up prices to distributors or retailers and that distributors mark-up their prices to retailers by 10 percent of production/acquisition cost was removed in 2009. No price may be below acquisition cost.


Enforcement inspections

When can a law enforcement officer inspect my premises?
The licensed location must be available for inspection 24 hours a day for any law enforcement officer.

What happens at the WSLCB’s initial inspection of a business?

Providing samples

Can distributors provide samples to retailer accounts?
Yes, in order to promote their products, distributors may provide samples to retailers under specific conditions:

  • Wine
    • A distributor may furnish a sample of wine to a retail licensee who has not previously purchased that brand/type or vintage year
    • One sample may be provided free to each licensed grocery store, wine shop, restaurant, and tavern
    • The sample is limited to not more than one liter of any brand and type of wine
    • If a particular wine is not available from the manufacturer in the standard 750 ml size bottle, the next largest size may be provided
  • Beer
    • Not more than 72 ounces of any brand and type of beer may be provided
    • “Free fills” and “free with” offers are not allowed. This includes new accounts
    • Free product (beyond the acceptable sample) may not be provided to any retail licensee


  • If a retail business already carries or sells a particular wine, a sample of that wine may not be provided
  • If a retail business has already purchased a particular wine from any distributor, than that retailer may not receive any free samples of that wine from any distributor
  • The samples provided to retailers must be marked on the bottles as “samples for licensees.” The retailer may not sell these samples to their customers
  • A distributor may not provide wine samples to a retailer’s customers

Can distributors provide samples to retailers for their in-store customer tastings?
No, a distributor cannot supply a retail store or restaurant with any wine or beer for retail customers to “sample.” Customers must purchase alcohol from a retailer at or above acquisition cost.


Instant and mail-in coupons

Can I place “instant” coupons on a bottle of wine, beer or spirits?
No, liquor manufacturers, importers and distributors may not offer “instant” rebates or instant coupons redeemable at the point-of-sale, on either liquor or non-liquor items.

Can I offer “mail-in” rebates?
Liquor manufacturers, importers and distributors may offer mail-in rebates on liquor and non-liquor items. Contact the WSLCB Alcohol Advertising Coordinator for more information.


Instructional classes for retailers

Can I offer instructional courses to licensed retailers?
Yes, breweries, micro breweries, domestic wineries, distilleries, distributors, certificate of approval holders, or a licensed agent may offer instructional courses for licensees and their employees, including chefs, on the subject of beer, wine, or spirits, including but not limited to, the history, nature, values, and characteristics of beer, wine, or spirits, the use of wine lists, and the methods of presenting, serving, storing, and handling beer, wine, or spirits, and what wines go well with different types of food.

Can I provide the materials needed to conduct the course?
Yes, you may provide the beer, wine, or spirits and such other equipment, materials, and utensils needed to conduct your course. The course may be held at your business, at the premises of a retail licensee, or elsewhere within the state.


Educational activities for consumers

Can I conduct educational activities for consumers on the licensed premises of retailer?
Yes, breweries, micro breweries, domestic wineries, distilleries, distributors, certificate of approval holders, or a licensed agent may conduct educational activities or provide product information to the consumer on the licensed premises of a retailer.

Any samples provided to the consumer must come from the retailer's own stock.

What kind of information can I provide?
Your activity may include information on the history, nature, quality, and characteristics of a wine, beer, or spirits, methods of harvest, production, storage, handling, and distribution, and the general development of the wine, beer, and spirits industry.

Can I be paid for the educational activities?
You may not receive compensation or financial benefit from the educational activities or product information. The promotional value of such courses or information is not considered advancement of money or of moneys' worth.

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