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Pennsylvania Installs Big Brother-ish Wine Vending Machines

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The wine vending machine.
The wine vending machine.

In a bid to further complicate its already convoluted liquor laws, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has introduced wine bottle vending machines in grocery stores as "an added level of convenience." Customers provide identification, look into a camera so an actual, real live person in a call center can confirm that they match their ID, and blow into a breathalyzer to prove they are not already drunk. This is more convenient than allowing the grocery store to just sell the wine how, exactly?

Pennsylvania's liquor laws are a holdover from the post-Prohibition era, and have been left on the books pretty much as-is since 1933. Currently, wine and liquor must be purchased in state-owned stores, and it's even illegal to bring in alcohol purchased in neighboring states. The argument is that the state gets discounts for buying in bulk that are then passed on to the consumer, and that the state employees who run the stores are better at preventing sales to minors and people who have been drinking.

In reality, it just makes it a huge pain to purchase alcohol. Some have even questioned how effective the state-run stores are in preventing minors from buying. So of course, the obvious answer is for the state to solve the issue with a vending machine. No teenager is going to figure out how to fool that.

· Swipe, Smile, Blow: Pa. Has Wine Vending Machines [AP]
· PA’s Disgraceful Liquor Laws [Philadelphia Weekly]
· All Vending Machines coverage on Eater National [-E-]