ABRA's Last Call Newsletter: January/February 2020 Edition

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Last Call Newsletter

JAN/FEB 2020

New Alcohol Laws

On Monday, December 23, 2019, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed four alcohol bills that were approved by the DC Council at the second reading on December 3, 2019.

The bills were transmitted to Congress on January 8, 2020 for the required 30-day review period and have a projected effective date of February 26, 2020. ABRA will distribute an announcement once the bills become law.

The legislative history of all four bills can be viewed in the District's Legislative Information Management System.

Licensees may learn more about changes to the law at ABRA's upcoming ABC Licensee Orientation Training on Thursday, February 27 at 2:00 p.m. ABRA trainings are offered at no cost, and translation and interpretation is available if requested in advance.

Technical Proposed Rulemaking 2

On Wednesday, January 8, 2020, the ABC Board held a hearing, to receive public comment for the proposed Technical Amendment Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  

The proposed rulemaking makes substantive changes to various sections in 23 DCMR to comply with the Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Amendment Act of 2018 (2018 Omnibus Bill). The rulemaking also makes administrative and technical changes to 23 DCMR that are unrelated to the 2018 Omnibus Bill. 

Persons that were unable to testify in person may submit written comment to ABRA’s General Counsel, Martha Jenkins, at Martha.Jenkins@dc.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 17, 2020.

Game of Skill

Based upon written legal guidance received from the District’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG), the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) is now accepting applications from prospective and existing Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) licensees to install electronic games of skill devices explicitly played to win money or property (excluding sports wagering). 

Games of skill are generally accepted to be those that require a degree of skill to win. Games of chance are those where success is not within the player’s control. Unlike games of chance, which are unlawful in the District when played to win money or property (excluding sports wagering), games of skill devices where one can similarly win money or property are not expressly prohibited or regulated by District or federal law. 

Current ABC-licensed restaurants, taverns, nightclubs, hotels, and multipurpose facilities are eligible to apply for an endorsement and may do so by submitting a Games of Skill Substantial Change Application. Prospective licensees may request the endorsement on their initial ABC application 

Applications are approved on a case-by-case basis and the ABC Board requires a legal opinion from the OAG stating that the terminal or device to be installed is a legally permissible game of skill. Applications may be protested and the steps for doing so are detailed at abra.dc.gov. 

Since electronic games of skill devices are not presently regulated in the District, Mayor Bowser has introduced emergency and temporary legislation to address immediate public safety concerns, including establishing a minimum age limit for players and ensuring that installed games are legally permissible games of skill as opposed to unlawful gambling devices. 

Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan M. McDuffie, Chairperson of the Committee on Business and Economic Development, has scheduled a public roundtable to discuss the proposed legislation at The John A. Wilson Building on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.

West Dupont Circle Zone Moratorium

The West Dupont Circle Moratorium Zone Approval Resolution of 2019 (PR23-0574), which maintains a zero cap on nightclubs approximately 600 feet in all directions from the intersection of 21st and P streets NW, has been transmitted to the DC Council for the required 90-day review period. 

The ABC Board will adopt the rules as final when the review period expires on March 12, 2020, or sooner if approved by DC Council resolution at an earlier date.   

Initiated at the request of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B and supported by the Dupont Circle Citizens Association, the resolution will extend the moratorium on nightclubs within the zone with some exceptions for another three years into 2023.  

In addition to the moratorium in West Dupont Circle, moratoriums are in effect in Adams Morgan, Glover Park, and Langdon Park 

Upcoming Deadlines

Annual Wine Pub Production Report | January 15, 2020
Pursuant to DC Code § 25-124, all wine pub permit holders must submit a report to ABRA, on or before January 15 of each calendar year, detailing the: 

  • Type(s) of wine produced or made reasonable efforts to produce on the licensed premises for the previous calendar year (2019), AND 
  • Name(s) and title(s) of the vintner(s), or other person(s), who produced or made reasonable efforts to produce the wine. 

Reports must be on 1) business letterhead, 2) signed by the licensee, 3) scanned, and 4) emailed to jared.powell@dc.gov. 

Extended Holiday Hours | Various
Washington’s Birthday | Friday evening, February 14, 2020 – Monday morning, February 17, 2020. Registration deadline is Monday, January 20, 2020.  

DC Emancipation Day | Wednesday evening, April 15, 2020 – Thursday morning, April 16, 2020. Registration deadline is Thursday, March 17, 2020. 

Through the District’s Extended Holiday Hours Program, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, hotels, and manufacturers with an on-site sales and consumption permit can apply to be allowed to see and serve alcohol until 4:00 a.m. and operate 24/7 over select holiday periods.  

Once approved, the registration is valid for all eligible holidays for future years. There is no cost to apply or participate.

Restaurant and Hotel Q4 Statement | January 30, 2020 
ABC-licensed restaurants and hotels are required to file quarterly statements reporting the previous period’s gross sales receipts and total expenses for food and alcohol. Q4 Statements must cover activity from October through December 2019. Submission instructions are available online.

Semi-Annual Caterer’s Report | January 30, 2020 
Alcohol-licensed caterers are required to file semi-annual reports detailing sales and expenditures for alcoholic beverages and food. Coming due reports must include details for activity from July through December 2019. Submission instructions are available online.  

Pub Crawl | Ongoing  
Promoters and organizers planning to host a pub crawl for 200+ persons in 2020 must apply for a new pub crawl license. Pub crawl licenses are only valid for the calendar year they are issued in.

Pub crawl applications must be received at least 60-days prior to an initial pub crawl event. Applications are subject to the approval of the ABC Board and the District Department of Public Works. Complete pub crawl licensing information is available online.  

Upcoming Training

ABC Licensee Orientation
Thursday, February 27, 2020
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Translation available upon advance request)

Geared towards new ABC licensees, participants will be introduced to ABC laws and regulations, best practices, noise abatement, settlement agreements, and how to work effectively with residents.


All trainings take place in ABRA's office at 2000 14th Street NW, Fourth Floor, Washington DC  20009.