The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) was created by state law on Nov. 29, 1933, at the end of Prohibition. Seventeen states (including Pennsylvania) and jurisdictions in Alaska, Maryland, Minnesota, and South Dakota control the sale of distilled spirits and, in some cases, wine and beer through government agencies at the wholesale level. Thirteen of those jurisdictions (including Pennsylvania) also exercise control over retail sales for off-premises consumption. The agency is governed by a three-member Board whose members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by two-thirds of the state Senate.
The mission of the PLCB is to responsibly sell wine and spirits as a retailer and wholesaler, regulate Pennsylvania's alcohol industry, promote alcohol education and social responsibility and maximize financial returns for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians. The PLCB regulates the manufacture, importation, sale, distribution and disposition of liquor, alcohol, and malt or brewed beverages in the commonwealth. The agency issues licenses to private individuals or entities that wish to engage in wholesale operations of beer, either as an importing distributor or as a distributor. The agency is also responsible for wholesale distribution of wine and spirits, which licensees may pick up from state-operated Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores or licensee service centers or have delivered from PLCB distribution centers.
The PLCB operates 904,000 square feet of warehouse space, the equivalent of 19 football fields, contracted with three privately held Pennsylvania distribution center companies. In fiscal year 2019-20, more than 16.8 million cases of wine and spirits were shipped from these distribution centers.
More than 600 Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores, including more than 100 Premium Collection stores and 13 licensee service centers, are leased from private landlords, infusing more than $56.2 million into the Pennsylvania economy.
The PLCB's Bureau of Alcohol Education provides a comprehensive program to prevent underage and dangerous drinking, including:
- Alcohol Education grants to reduce underage and dangerous drinking totaling about $1 million each year, which are awarded to local partners in alcohol deterrence efforts;
- An award-winning education and prevention campaign -Know When. Know. How. SM - targeting underage drinking;
- The distribution of educational materials, either by request or by exhibiting at and participating in health fairs, conferences and similar programs;
- An award-winning training program for resident assistants on college campuses; and
- Partnership-building with communities and organizations across Pennsylvania committed to the prevention of alcohol misuse and underage drinking.
The PLCB's Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP) training assists licensees with identifying fraudulent IDs, preventing sales to minors, recognizing and handling visibly intoxicated patrons and understanding liability issues. In fiscal year 2019-20, a total of 5,933 owners and managers and 80,025 servers and sellers were trained through RAMP.
Where the Money Goes
Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores generated more than $2.56 billion in sales and taxes in fiscal year 2019-20.
Together, more than $745.1 million was returned to the General Fund and state and local government and other beneficiaries in fiscal year 2019-20.
- The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs received $4.2 million to educate and prevent problem alcohol use.
- Philadelphia and Allegheny counties received $8.8 million in local sales taxes.
- Local communities received $4.3 million in returned licensing fees.
In the last five years, the PLCB has provided:
- More than $3.42 billion to the Pennsylvania General Fund
- $146.8 million to the Pennsylvania State Police
- $16.3 million to the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs
- $22.3 million to local municipalities in returned license fees
Distribution of proceeds (in millions):
- Purchase of wine and spirits (including federal taxes paid): $1,386.6
- State liquor tax: $365.7
- Retail, marketing, supply chain and wholesale: $374.6
- Annual transfer to the General Fund: $185.1
- State and local sales taxes: $152.7
- Administrative and ALJ Office: $66.1
- Contributions to other agencies: $39.2
- State Police Liquor Control Enforcement: $30.8
- License fees returned to local municipalities: $4.3
- Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs: $4.2
- Billing from other Commonwealth agencies: $16.4
- Comptroller and payroll: $6.3
- Auditor General: $2.7
- Integrated Enterprise System Services: $2.2
- Office of Administration: $3.7
- Department of General Services: $1.1
- Civil Service Commission: $0.2
- Treasury Department: $0.1