Every state in the country has an alcohol beverage control agency that regulates the manufacturing, wholesale distribution and retail sale of alcoholic beverages. There are no unrestricted free markets for alcohol sales in any state.
In Ohio, the Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control is responsible for controlling the manufacture, distribution, licensing, regulation, and merchandising of beer, wine, mixed beverages, and spirituous liquor as the law is outlined in the Ohio Revised Code Chapters 4301. and 4303.
The Division of Liquor Control regulatory function is based in our permitting process. Annual licensing is required for businesses that provide alcoholic beverages for consumption as a manufacturer, distributor or retailer, and in some cases an event promoter. In some cases, the numbers of permits issued (also known as licenses) are limited by quota based on the population of the area. In all cases, local community input is encouraged and considered during permitting and renewal of permits.
The Division works with local law enforcement and the Department of Public Safety Investigative Unit to ensure compliance with Ohio law.
The Division manages wholesale and retail operations with the goal of increasing profits without encouraging increased consumption. Profits from spirits provide dedicated funding for Ohio’s economic development efforts.
The Division, on behalf of the non-profit JobsOhio, is the sole purchaser and distributor of spirituous liquor (intoxicating liquor containing more than 21% alcohol by volume) in Ohio. The Division selects and prices the products, and supplies them to “authorized agents” at no charge. Authorized agents are private businesses which own and operate retail outlets selling other goods and services to the public, such as beer, wine and low proof spirituous liquor, bread, milk, and other grocery items. The agents contract to sell the spirituous liquor products for commission based on sales.
There are currently about 450 liquor agencies throughout the state.