Report: Costco-backed liquor initiative passes in Washington state

Supermarkets, mass merchandisers can begin selling liquor next June

NEW YORK — The Washington state government's cap on quaffable spirits popped open Wednesday as voters there passed a ballot initiative to allow private retailers to sell liquor, according to published reports.

The Seattle Times reported that as of Tuesday night, about 60% of voters had voted in favor of Initiative 1183, which will allow supermarkets and mass-merchandise retailers to start selling liquor in June. Costco contributed most of the funding in favor of the initiative and the Seattle Times reported last month that the $22 million it contributed broke state records for the most money spent by any single donor on an initiative.

Washington is one of the handful of states in which liquor sales are restricted to special state-owned stores. The policy, which dates back to the aftermath of Prohibition, was created as a way to continue limiting the sales and consumption of liquor. The success of I-1183 follows the failure last year of a similar initiative, which also received heavy backing from Costco.

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