Utah could soon make a half-billion in liquor sales

Posted at 5:30 PM, May 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-21 23:30:11-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The state of Utah is flirting with a half-billion in liquor sales.

The latest sales projections provided to FOX 13 on Monday show the state will do roughly $450 million in alcohol sales by the end of this fiscal year.

"That would be a new record. We're setting new records every year," said Terry Wood, a spokesman for the Utah Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Wood attributed the sales figures to an increasing population, as well as a healthy tourism industry. Utah is a liquor control state, meaning the sale and supply of alcohol goes through the government.

At the rate the state is going, the DABC said it expects to clear a half-billion in sales within the next year or two. The state regularly posts 5-6% gains month over month.

The figure cannot easily be compared to its neighbors, who have much less restrictive alcohol laws. For example, Idaho allows beer and wine to be sold in grocery and convenience stores, but sells spirits out of state-run stores. Nevada has some of the least restrictive alcohol laws in the nation.

The Nevada Dept. of Taxation told FOX 13 it collected $48 million in wholesale liquor taxes for fiscal year 2016-17 (the state taxes based on gallons). The rest cannot be pulled out of raw data because liquor sales fall under Nevada's general sales tax.

However, where Utah is a liquor control state -- Nevada is sort of a marijuana control state. The latest data shows that since recreational cannabis was legalized in Nevada, the state recorded $336 million in sales from July 2017 to February of this year. That includes medical and recreational marijuana. Roughly $50 million in taxes were to be collected in Fiscal Year 2018.

Last year, the DABC recorded $427 million in liquor sales for Utah. The money gets divided between the state's general fund, school lunch programs for needy children and public safety.