The Vermont Department of Liquor Control (DLC) was created in 1933, when the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution repealed the Volstead Act (Prohibition). Control of the sale and distribution of alcohol was then transferred to state governments. In response, all states instituted some form of three-tier system of producers, wholesale distributors, and retailers to promote moderation in consumption, prevent concentration of power, and raise revenues through taxes. Vermont, along with sixteen other states and two counties in Maryland, directly control the sale of liquor at the wholesale level and are considered “control states” or “control jurisdictions”.
A number of these jurisdictions also control retail sales which means their citizens purchase liquor at a state liquor store or a designated agency outlet. Vermont owned and operated many of its own stores until 1996, when the State opted to transition completely to an agency system. Agency stores are privately-owned retail locations that contract with the Department of Liquor Control to sell spirits for the State. Vermont currently has 80 agency stores, conveniently located around the state. Our agencies offer consumers a wide range of shopping experiences, from liquor stores within large grocery store chains to local mom and pop stores. Our partnership with these stores allows for a wide variety of products at consistent pricing throughout the state.
The Control State System
Our system of selling alcohol achieves a delicate balance between offering a great selection of products and reasonable pricing at convenient locations around the state, with regulating the sales of hard liquor. Studies prove that regulating sales reduces consumption, thereby limiting the physical and social damage caused by the misuse of alcohol. The Department of Liquor Control contributes millions each year to the state’s general fund in the form of excise and sales taxes; educates thousands of servers and sellers of alcohol beverages within the state; shares licensing fees that help support towns and cities; and, our Enforcement Division provides support to local and regional law enforcement organizations. States with less alcohol regulation, in general, have more issues with alcohol abuse, higher prices, and less selection of products than our state. We believe Vermont has found the right balance between too much availability, which leads to increased consumption, and over-regulation, which inhibits good customer service.