Ford government allowing Beer Store to sell other products including lottery tickets, LCBO believes it can too

The Ford government is allowing The Beer Store to sell a lot more than just suds. Richard Southern discusses the change, which will allow the outlets to sell lottery tickets and other products beyond beer.

By Richard Southern

The Ford government is allowing The Beer Store to sell a lot more than just suds, letting it expand its offerings to OLG lottery tickets and other products beyond beer, 680 NewsRadio Toronto has learned.

The LCBO says it also believes it can sell lotto tickets but has not yet made the decision to do so. It’s all in a move to help ease the transition to corner stores and gas stations being permitted to sell alcohol starting this fall.

Currently, the privately owned Beer Store is only allowed to sell ancillary items, such as bags of ice, beer mugs, and T-shirts, but the government is now permitting it to sell a multitude of other products including lottery tickets and food.

The only exceptions being cigarettes, cannabis, and liquor, which will remain prohibited. It’s not clear if or when The Beer Store plans to expand its offerings.

680NewsRadio asked The Beer Store specifically about the sale of lottery tickets and if it intends to make them available. A spokesperson did not provide specific answers, but instead referred to a statement released on May 24 that talked about “investments in modernization” that it said “will enable The Beer Store to successfully compete with additional retail channels.”

Starting this fall, licensed retailers including convenience stores and gas stations will be able to sell beer, wine and ready-to-drink cocktails, along with other products they already sell such as snack items and lottery tickets.

Changing the regulations would allow The Beer Store to better compete in a more open marketplace.

The LCBO tells 680 NewsRadio Toronto, “It is our understanding that there is nothing in the regulation that prevents us from selling certain items, including lottery tickets,” but added, “At this time, no decisions have been made regarding the sale of additional products at the LCBO.

The news is not being warmly received by all. While the Ontario Convenience Stores Association says it, “welcomes competition in the marketplace,” it adds, “The prospect of beer stores transforming into convenience stores, however, raises several important policy considerations. One primary concern is that The Beer Store currently manages the warehousing, distribution, and delivery of beer — a product that will undoubtedly be in high demand in the convenience store sector.”

“To address this, we must carefully consider the implications of allowing a single competitor to control the beer distribution network. It is crucial to establish mechanisms that ensure the Beer Store adequately serves the needs of all retailers across Ontario.”

For its part, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation said, “OLG products are currently not available for sale at LCBO or Beer Store locations. OLG is constantly evaluating opportunities to expand points of distribution to better serve our customer and fulfill our mandate from government. We evaluate opportunities on a case-by-case basis.”

Ontario Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie called it further proof that Doug Ford’s “boozedoggle” is about helping out his “rich insiders.”

“Ford just keeps giving the big, foreign-owned brewers more and more money, this time at the expense of the very small, mom-and-pop convenience stores he pretends his billion-dollar boozedoggle is supposed to help,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.

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