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Glass of beer

A glass of beer sits on the bar at the Pub Station in Billings.

HELENA -- After a change to state law during the 2017 special legislative session, the state Department of Revenue is opening bidding for the first competitive alcohol licenses.

The licenses are both in the Bozeman area. The minimum bid for a Bozeman retail beer license, with gaming restricted, is $187,500. The minimum bid for a Belgrade all-beverage license is $350,000.

Bidding opened Jan. 18 and closes at midnight Feb. 23.

License bidding for other quota areas will follow in the future.

Before, new alcohol beverage licenses were awarded by a lottery system.

The law replaces alcoholic beverages license lotteries with a competitive bidding process to determine which individual or business is eligible to apply for licensure. The highest bidder will be granted the opportunity to seek licensure.

A fiscal note estimated the bill would generate $2.5 million in fiscal year 2018, $3.8 million in fiscal year 2019, $5 million in fiscal year 2020 and $2.7 million in fiscal year 2021.

The new law also separates the state’s six combined quota areas so that each incorporated city and incorporated town has its own allowable number of licenses or quota. Those areas were Bozeman/Belgrade, Whitefish/Columbia Falls, Helena/East Helena, Hamilton/Pinesdale, Eureka/Rexford and Red Lodge/Bear Creek.

To find bid information or submit a bid, visit revenue.mt.gov. All bids must be accompanied by a $100 processing fee and an irrevocable letter of credit for at least the amount of the bid.

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State Bureau reporter for The Independent Record.

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