The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has ended its wine kiosk program.
But even with a million dollars in dispute, the head of the LCB says he’d do it again.
The experiment to put wine-vending machines in supermarkets got off to an inauspicious start with machine malfunctions that began shortly after the kiosks were installed.
Another red flag came 45 days ago when the state announced the company behind the machines, Simple Brands, owed the state more than a million dollars.
LCB director Joe Conti said the deal doesn’t represent a net loss for the state.
“We had the ability to take the risk because we were able to hold them accountable and this should not cost the taxpayers anything in the final analysis,” Conti said. “And, in fact, we probably made a couple hundred thousand dollars we didn’t anticipate, you know, through the sales and then the proceeds that followed through to that bottom line.”
Conti said Simple Brands is now responsible for packing up its kiosks, which sold wine to anyone who passed a Breathalyzer test and showed valid identification at certain supermarkets
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, who has proposed a bill to privatize the state’s liquor stores, says the wine kiosks, Breathalyzers and all, were a joke from the get-go.
Initially, the kiosks were slated to be distributed statewide, but the LCB quickly scaled back that approach.
Only a few dozen were ever installed.