TRENTON — Partygoers in the Tourism District are one step closer to walking down the beach or Boardwalk with a beer in their hand.
A bill that would open up the Tourism District to open containers of alcohol passed through the state Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on Thursday, according to Sen. Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, who cosponsored the bill.
Should it become law, the bill would allow a free flow of drinkers between businesses in the district, which includes the Boardwalk and several other heavily trafficked areas of the city.
“Enjoying a drink on the Boardwalk creates the leisurely atmosphere which tourists nowadays expect to enjoy at a resort destination,” Brown said. “It just makes sense to offer an amenity other successful tourist destinations allow that makes people want to come back again and again.”
Tom Forkin, chairman of the Atlantic City Alcohol Beverage Control board, called the bill “a huge step in the proper direction” and said he hopes to see it become law before Fourth of July weekend.
“I presented this six years ago. So it’s been in the works for some time, to try to make Atlantic City more like a Las Vegas or a Bourbon Street in New Orleans or Key West and other areas where you have open containers,” Forkin said.
The bill, sponsored by Sens. Bob Andrzejczak, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, and James Beach, D-Burlington, Camden, was introduced in early March.
Should the bill pass through the full Senate and Assembly and be signed into law, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority — which has land-use and zoning jurisdiction over the Atlantic City Tourism District — would have to adopt a resolution reflecting the new open-container law.
City Council voted in favor of a nonbinding resolution supporting open containers in the Tourism District in March 2018. The Atlantic City Police Department also expressed support for the proposal.
Staff Writer David Danzis contributed to this report.