Tallinn to impose alcohol sales restrictions on casinos as well

Beer on tap. Photo is illustrative.
Beer on tap. Photo is illustrative. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

While a previous plan by Tallinn city government foresaw new restrictions on late-night alcohol sales at bars and nightclubs, a new bill will see the late-night bans on the sale of alcohol be extended to casinos located in the capital city as well.

Tallinn city government approved a bill introducing restrictions on the late-night sale of alcohol at the city's bars, nightclubs, pubs and other entertainment establishments last November. The bill listed exceptions to the restrictions, among them casinos.

Tallinn City Council did not discuss the bill, as the city government withdrew it before the former had a chance to do so. Toivo Tootsen, deputy chairman of Tallinn City Council's Center Party group, said that the city government wanted to further consult with relevant parties first. According to Tootsen, it was worth considering whether to allow unrestricted alcohol sales at casinos or treat them as equal to bars.

The bill called for the retail sale of alcohol for consumption on-site to be banned from 2:00 a.m. through 6:00 a.m. on the nights before Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and from 3:00 a.m. through 7:00 a.m. on the nights preceding Saturday and Sunday.

Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said on Wednesday that the city government has decided that these restrictions must be extended to casinos as well. Casinos and nightclubs were granted exceptions in the bill, with alcohol restrictions to be set at 3:00 a.m. on weeknights and 4 a.m. on weekends, he said.

These restrictions will not extend to lobby bars at accommodation establishments, or to points of sale located in passenger-only areas of Tallinn Airport or Port of Tallinn terminals open for international travel. Restrictions for public events will be set out in public event permits.

While the previous version of the bill called for the new restrictions to be implemented on June 1, the city government decided to extend the deadline to October 1. Tallinn City Council must also approve the bill.

According to Kõlvart, the city government has taken into account the likelihood that some bars or nightclubs may try to skirt around the new restrictions, such as by selling as much alcohol as possible in the final minutes prior to the end of sales, as the city government cannot prohibit the consumption of alcohol during the time its sale is prohibited.

"But I am certain that this will be a temporary tendency," he continued. "We can see already that the city's control must be effective and real, and we will be dealing with that."

The mayor said that he hopes that drinking culture will begin to change slowly, as happened after the last round of restrictions were introduced on the nighttime sale of alcohol in stores. "That was Tallinn's initiative," he highlighted. "The same risks were brought up then that are being talked about today. Today we consider [this restriction] normal."

Kõlvart noted that late-night restrictions on the sale of alcohol at entertainment establishments is common practice in Europe, including Northern Europe.

"We like saying that [Northern European countries] are examples for us — their economies and their welfare states," he said. "But the welfare state is also culture, and that is where it all begins, I believe, and then you reach economic growth."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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