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Obtaining a liquor license in Colorado

Business owners in Colorado who want to sell alcohol on their premises need to go through a number of steps through local and state authorities. Also, due to state laws, not all of certain establishments are even able to apply for a liquor license.

According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, retail establishments are required to first get approval from the local government. This includes going through an initial background check and showing evidence of the needs of the neighborhood. Once this approval is obtained, retailers go to the state level to get final approval for a license. In order to be considered for license approval, the state reviews a number of items related to the applicant. These include:

  • History of tax payment
  • Criminal history 
  • Ownership interests in other industry associates
  • History of license violation 

In addition to filling out and submitting an application, the retailer must also pay a non-refundable application fee, which ranges from $1,550 to $1,750. This is in addition to fees that are due once the application is approved.

Up until 2016, major retailers such as grocery store chains were not allowed to sell wine or liquor and only able to sell 3.2% beer, with the exception of one store location in the entire state. The Denver Post says that in June of 2016, the governor signed a bill that changes the previous law. The new legislation allows major grocers and retailers to expand the number of stores that can sell liquor over a 20 year period of time. Considered to be a compromise, the bill allows the retailers to compete with smaller liquor stores through a slow phase-in, while protecting these smaller entities from being completely taken over.  

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