Utah relaxing liquor laws to entice tourists

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“That would have been shooting for too much,” Ms. Marcy said. “We didn’t think we could do both. We needed to keep our eye on one or the other.”

Many analysts assumed that any changes in Utah’s liquor laws would be politically impossible, given the church’s strong statewide influence. What made it possible was the combination of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, which expanded the city’s entertainment district and convention center, and a governor receptive to loosening the laws.

“We were told at the beginning of 2007, ‘Don’t even try to eliminate the private clubs,’ ” Ms. Marcy said. “But we were almost defunct before this, so we decided, ‘Hey, what do we have to lose?’ ”

The hope is that convention and tourism business will increase as word spreads of Utah’s normalized liquor laws, Mr. Beck said.

“This really sends the message that Salt Lake City, with its 1.2 million residents, is a lot more like other cities than unlike other cities,” he said.

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