GOP Lawmaker Moves to Abolish Virginia’s Government Monopoly on Hard Liquor Sales

Republican Virginia House of Delegates member Nick Freitas announced legislation on Wednesday that would abolish the state-run liquor store system in his state. Under Virginia’s archaic alcohol laws, hard liquor can only be sold by the bottle at government stores—and private business is essentially locked-out of the market.

“Prohibition ended nearly 90 years ago,” Freitas said. “There is absolutely NO reason to maintain a state monopoly on the sale of alcohol.”

“That’s why I just introduced legislation to ABOLISH the [Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority] system in Virginia,” Freitas added.

Freitas’ bill would essentially privatize liquor sales in the state.

What about all those “ABC” government liquor stores throughout Virginia?

The libertarian-leaning Republican wants them gone.

“The bill also requires the Board of Directors of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (the Board) to dispose of all real estate used as government stores and to terminate leased property upon which the Board has operated a government store,” the legislation reads.

There are currently 18 states including Virginia that mandate state-run liquor stores.

The Reason Foundation’s Leonard Gilroy explained how the ABC liquor system is inherently corrupt in 2010, writing, “This begs an important follow-up question: if transporting and selling liquor isn’t a core government function, then why is the state doing it?”

“State-run liquor monopolies hurt taxpayers and consumers,” Gilroy explained. “Taxpayers and consumers in wholesale ‘control’ (i.e., state-run monopoly) states absorb higher liquor taxes and mark-ups, politically added spending items, and reduced product choices. Taxpayers in wholesale/retail control states like Virginia additionally pay the expense of retail establishments, salaries, benefits and pensions for thousands of state ABC employees.”

Other downsides of the Virginia system include a lack of options, limited store availability, and reduced innovation in the market. He added, “Worse, beyond significantly higher long-term costs, localities suffer with a smaller tax base, thereby losing out on local, real estate and/or corporate taxes not paid under a state-run system.”

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Jack Hunter
Jack Hunter
Jack Hunter is a freelance writer, the co-author of Sen. Rand Paul’s 2011 book ‘The Tea Party Goes to Washington’ and the editor of the libertarian news site Liberty Tree, published by Sen. Paul’s campaign.


  1. Good luck with that. Between the VDOT and the VA ABC, there is so much corruption and nepotism that regardless of Party, nobody has ever been able to touch them. The barriers to market entry at VA ABC make it impossible for small distillers to get their foot in the door by offering their products at market price, while the big players can afford campaign contributions and lobbyists to champion their cause. Unlike market states, there is no incentive to provide better selection when the employees and entire supply chain are paid by the State. And if they should run in the red, they just raise prices because where else can we go? That same distorted market allows Virginia to soak it’s citizens all for the benefit of the political machine. Privatization has been proposed before and the initiatives have always failed because there is just too much money involved for the entrenched politicians and bureaucrats.


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