Liquor Control Board of Ontario

From Academic Kids

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is a Crown corporation established in 1927 by Premier Howard Ferguson to sell liquor, wine, and beer in Ontario through a chain of retail stores. LCBO stores are the only stores allowed to sell liquor in Ontario. Beer is also sold by the privately owned The Beer Store chain and by brewery outlets, and wine is also sold by a small number of stores operated by wineries to sell their own brands. Licensed bars and restaurants can also sell alcoholic beverages, but they must be consumed on their premises. The bars and restaurants themselves must buy their drinks from the LCBO helping to make it the world's largest purchaser of liquor and spirits.

The publicly owned corporation grew out of early twentieth century prohibitionist thinking and were designed to allow the government to more closely limit alcohol sales. For many years the stores remained deliberately uninviting with customers forced to apply in paper for what they wanted and having it then fetched by a staff member after the customer age was carefully checked.

In the 1980s the stores changed to become far more open and inviting with decorative displays of alcohol. Today the LCBO is known for decent customer service and a wide selection. The company is also very profitable for the provincial government, but if it is profitable enough considering the lucrative monopoly on retailing of liquor is currently being debated.

There is often discussion about whether the province should sell the LCBO. The main benefit would be the billions of dollars that would be the immediate windfall from any sale. It has also been argued that the government could earn even more money by dismantling the high-margin retail stores while keeping the lucrative wholesale business as Alberta's privatization of the liquor business suggests. The LCBO today makes about a billion dollars per year, a sale is estimated to reap about six billion dollars. The main benefits to the consumer, as seen by comparisons with other provinces, are more stores, greater convenience, more discount sales and longer hours. The disadvantages would be reduced selection at smaller less central locations and higher prices for some items. A privatized system would also employ more staff and greatly help out the convenience and grocery store sectors in Ontario, but wages for employees would be lower.

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