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Cheers! Beer vending machines and mail-order wine could be on tap

Recent legislation would allow beer and wine sales through self-serve dispensers, while another bill would allow direct wine shipments to Michigan consumers.
Wine, beer and food, stock image.

LANSING, Mich. — Efforts are underway to make it easier for Michigan residents to buy beer and wine, be it through a delivery service or a barroom vending machine.

A recent House bill would legalize beer and wine sales through self-serve machines. Another measure allows delivered wine shipments to Michigan consumers.

The beer vending bill would bring Michigan in line with what is already offered in other states, said Rep. Rodney Wakeman, who co-sponsored the bill. 

“Our state should join the vast majority of other states that allow for this type of safe technology to provide increased flexibility for business owners and variety for consumers,’’ Wakeman, R-Saginaw Township, said in a news release.

House Bill 5544 allows bar and restaurant owners to install self-serve beverage dispensers, enabling consumers “to pour their own beer or wine in certain quantities in a safe and controlled environment,’’ Wakeman said.

Beer vending machines have been around for several years; they are used at concert venues and sports arenas. Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, began offering beer from self-serve machines in 2014. 

To use the machines, customers have to buy a card from a concession worker; IDs are checked to prove buyers are of legal age to purchase alcohol.

Wakeman’s bill allows on-site dispensing machines so long as several conditions are met.

They include limiting single orders to no more than 32 ounces of beer and 10 ounces of wine. Quantities could be slightly increased if approved by the server.

Orders would have to be placed with a clerk and the dispensing machines cannot provide spirits or mixed drinks.

“We need to be mindful of the growth of the craft beer industry in Michigan and respond to the demands of the marketplace,’’ Wakeman said. 

The other alcohol-related measure, which was introduced this week, would allow direct wine shipments to Michigan consumers.

“Currently, Michiganders are barred from receiving wine shipments from out-of-state wine retailers and clubs, even though shipments from out-of-state wineries as well as in-state retailers are allowed,’’ state Rep. Steve Johnson said in a news release.

Johnson, R-Wayland, said House Bill 5579 “will create a level playing field for all who want to safely and securely have wine shipped to their homes.’’

“Why should Virginia residents be able to get wine from any retailer shipped to their door but here in Michigan we cannot?’’ he asked.

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