Hotels have 24/7 licence to sell liquor to lodgers
The recent debate over the licensing authority’s decision to refuse an application by The Treasury to trade 24 hours per day, seven days per week missed some fundamental facts that have a significant influence on the issue.
Under a hotel liquor licence, which The Treasury has, there is no restriction, in terms of trading hours, on the sale and supply of liquor to lodgers and their guests, as approved under section 10(1)(b) of the Act (“lodgers” are defined as being local, national or international persons residing at the hotel).
In other words, the licensee is permitted to open any bar operating under the hotel licence at any time of the day to serve lodgers and their guests.
It is important to note that this does not only refer to a “mini bar” in a hotel room but instead applies to all bars operating under the hotel licence.
One of the arguments surrounding The Treasury issue centered on the perceived notion that someone flying in from overseas and arriving at The Treasury at 4am, for example, would be unable to purchase liquor on their arrival.
As stated, if this person is a lodger at the hotel then the licensee would be permitted to sell them liquor at any time of the day.
Furthermore, section 60(4) of the Liquor Control Act 1988 allows for hotel licensees to apply for an Extended Trading Permit (ETP) that permits the dining area in premises to which a hotel licence applies to sell liquor “at any time” ancillary to a meal.
In other words, if The Treasury was granted such an ETP it would be allowed to serve liquor at, for example, 3am providing it is ancillary to a meal, just as a restaurant liquor licence allows. ETPs of this type generally remain valid for the life of the licence and the application process is straightforward.
In the debate that followed The Treasury decision, it was suggested that the Crown Casino Complex has a “24 hour liquor licence”; this is incorrect.
Crown Promenade has a standard hotel licence with a midnight closing time, while Crown Metropol is authorised to trade until 2am. Eve Nightclub is restricted to nightclub trading hours (with a 5am closing).
While the casino has operated under a casino liquor licence since 1985, it is not true to say that liquor is permitted to be sold 24 hours a day across the complex as that condition only applies to bars operating under the casino licence.
Owing to the significant differences in a casino liquor licence and a hotel liquor licence, comparing The Treasury application with trading hours permitted under a casino licence is not comparing like with like.
It is important to note that restrictions on liquor trading hours are not unique to Perth. For instance, the NSW licensing authority imposes a six-hour closure period on all new liquor licences, while further afield and despite its reputation as the city “that never sleeps”, liquor cannot be sold for on premises consumption between 4-8am in New York City.