Florida malt beverage suppliers and local bar owners are thrilled over the passage of House Bill 961, which creates an exception to Florida’s “tied house evil” prohibitions and amends Florida Statute 561.42 by allowing distributors to provide, and vendors, or retailers, to accept, branded glassware, free of charge.In general, Florida’s tied house statutes prohibit manufacturers, distributors, and importers from giving, and retailers from accepting, gifts, money, and other things of value in order to avoid the separate tiers from having a financial interest or “tie” to one another. The tied house statutes carve out certain exceptions, such as allowing suppliers to
In give neon or electric signs, window paintings, posters, placards, and other advertising material to vendors for use inside of their retail establishment. House Bill 961 adds to these exceptions by allowing malt beverage suppliers to provide their distributors with branded glassware that the distributors may, in turn, give to vendors licensed to sell malt beverages for on premise consumption, i.e., bars and restaurants. Each piece of glassware given to a bar or restaurant must bear supplier branding and distributors are limited to giving ten cases of glassware (twenty four pieces of glass per case, or two hundred and forty glasses) per retailer, per year. Vendors are prohibited from selling the glassware or returning it to a distributor for cash, credit, or a replacement. Suppliers, distributors, and retailers must maintain detailed records of the transactions for three years, even if no money is exchanged, such as keeping zero cost receipts.
The changes, although beneficial to retailers and suppliers for the respective cost savings and advertising benefits, came with some opposition from small craft beer manufacturers who expressed concern that they, without the deep pockets of larger suppliers, may not be able to afford to keep up with the free glasses provided by larger brewers, effectively putting them at an advertising disadvantage. Regardless, many retail proponents argued that glassware is a significant business expense and the new law will equate to a major cost savings for small businesses.
The full text of the statute, including detailed record keeping provisions, can be read here: http://www.leg.state.fl.