Updated: Dec 2020
Florida Liquor License Lottery
Opening a bar, package liquor store, or a restaurant that wants to sell spirits and doesn’t meet the requirements for a special food service license can be challenging. In order to sell alcoholic beverages, special steps and licenses are necessary and required in order to be able to legally purchase and sell beer, wine, and liquor. If an establishment wants to sell just wine or beer, obtaining a license is oftentimes less difficult as its an application process submitted to the state.
If a bar, small restaurant, or package liquor store wants to sell liquor, this is a bit more difficult. The number of licenses available is limited, and businesses can only get a license by buying an existing license or through the Florida liquor license lottery.
What Is the Florida Liquor License Lottery?
A lottery is an annual event that awards the right to apply for a quota license. If you are new to the state or new to opening a business, you may be wondering, what is a quota license? A quota liquor license, also known as a either a 3PS or 4COP license, is what bars, some restaurants, and retail package liquor stores need in order to sell liquor for on-premise or off-premise consumption. These licenses are in high demand because there are only a certain number available per county based upon population.
In general, through the lottery, there is one new license made available by the state-based upon each increase of 7,500 in population for the county However, many licenses are already issued to existing businesses, so there are usually only a few offered based upon growth.. The number available can vary, as some counties see rapid growth, which increases the number of licenses available. Another way that licenses become available in the lottery is if an existing license is revoked as a result of legal violations.
The Florida liquor license lottery is open to members of the public, and the winners may thereafter apply for a quota license. Entry into the lottery is only open for a short period of time, and each county announces winners on lottery day. Not everyone who enters the lottery needs one for their business establishment. Many people enter for a chance to win because they can sell the license to someone else who wants one. Because of the limited availability, a quota license can be extremely valuable. Depending upon the county, a quota liquor license may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
How Does Someone Obtain a Liquor License?
Keep in mind that if an establishment only wants to sell wine or beer, the licensing requirements are different, and licenses are easier to acquire. A liquor license is more challenging to get. There are a couple of ways to obtain a liquor license in the state of Florida, but entering the lottery and winning one is the most rewarding. Entrance requires the following steps:
Meet the requirements
In order to enter the lottery, you must be a minimum of 21 years of age.. Should you be one of the selected winners, you must then qualify for issuance of the license and fill out a personal questionnaire, be fingerprinted, be of good moral character and have no felonies within the last 15 years or criminal history involving alcoholic beverages or tobacco in the last 5 years.
Apply during the entrance period
You can only apply during the open entry period, which is open for 45-days. This time period typically starts the 3rd Monday in August ends at 5:00 p.m. 45 days later..
Pay an entry fee
To enter the lottery, there is an entry fee. The amount is $100 per application, per county.
Check the mail for a letter announcing the win
Within five days after the lottery drawing, certified letters are sent to the winners of the quota licenses. The winner’s list is also posted on the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco’s website.
File a license application
If you are selected as a winner to apply, you have 45 days to file a liquor license application with the state. You will need to pass a background check and pay the initial activation fee. Once approved, the fee to activate the license is $10,750.In addition, you will be required to pay the annual license fee depending upon the series of the license applied for . The license must be renewed every year thereafter. The license is also only valid in the county in which it is issued
For those who did not come out a winner in the lottery, the other option is to purchase a quota license from another winner or someone who has an existing license and is looking to sell. As mentioned earlier, this is a much more expensive way to obtain a license. However, if you are in need of obtaining a license now in order to open your business, you are able to acquire one right away by purchasing an existing quota license in the marketplace as opposed to waiting for and entering, the lottery every year.
How Can Lottery Winners Sell Their Licenses?
Because liquor licenses can be so lucrative, some people enter the lottery just so if they win, they can turn around and sell the license for a price much higher than the costs necessary to apply for, activate, and transfer to a Buyer. For those who are looking for a buyer, there are a couple of ways of going about it. The best way is to retain an experienced and knowledgeable liquor license broker such as Beverage License Specialists to obtain the very best price and terms and assist with the process.
What Are the Results From the 2019 Lottery?
More people are learning about the liquor lottery, partly because there has been more publicity about it and how it works. As a result, the 2020 lottery drew 28,544 entries. These people were competing for 62 available licenses in the state. The counties that had new liquor licenses, and the number of licenses were as follows:
- Brevard (2)
- Broward (3)
- Calhoun (1)
- Clay (1)
- Collier (2)
- Dade (6)
- Desoto (1)
- Duval (4)
- Hernando (1)
- Highlands (1)
- Hillsborough (5)
- Lake (3)
- Lee (3)
- Leon (1)
- Levy (1)
- Manatee (1)
- Marion (1)
- Orange (5)
- Osceola (3)
- Palm Beach (1)
- Pasco (1)
- Pinellas (1)
- Polk (4)
- St. Johns (2)
- St. Lucie (1)
- Sarasota (2)
- Seminole (2)
- Sumter (1)
- Volusia (1)
- Walton (1)
The Florida liquor license lottery for the application period that began in August 2019, has not yet been conducted.
What are the Expected Lottery Dates for 2020?
For businesses that want to enter for a chance to obtain a county liquor license, the Florida liquor license lottery 2020 drawing date is expected to open in August. In the past, the opening date has been the third Monday in August. If that tradition continues this year, the opening date is expected to be August 17, and the closing date, 45 days after, should be October 1. Any applications sent in after that date will not be accepted for the lottery.
Let Beverage License Specialists Help Get Your License
Obtaining the right license for your bar, restaurant or liquor store, can present some challenges. However, Beverage License Specialists with an experienced and knowledgeable staff is the clear choice as they have been helping customers and clients of all kinds with their licensing needs for more than 30 years.
If you have questions about the liquor license lottery or are looking to buy, sell or finance a Florida liquor license, contact us and let one of our friendly and professional experts help you today.