News

2019.09.18 12:00

Lithuanian entrepreneur beats alcohol law with 24-hour ‘storage machine’

Ingenious entrepreneurs have found a way to bypass Lithuania's strict alcohol sales restrictions. Instead of selling drinks, they have installed automated ‘alcohol storage machines’ where users can ‘borrow’ and ‘store’ alcohol. An MP has proposed to amend the law in order to close the loophole.

Five ‘alcohol storage machines’ have been operating in Vilnius for two weeks, the daily Lietuvos Rytas has reported. Registered users can get strong alcoholic drinks at any time, even beyond the legal alcohol sale hours before 10:00 and after 20:00.

The Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control Department says the machines violate the law, but the company that owns them insists that it does not engage in alcohol sales, but merely offers storage services.

“If you do what doesn't breach the law, does it mean that you're bypassing the law?” Vytautas Šulcas, a spokesman for Artimiausias.lt, is indignant.

“I've never heard that it's forbidden to go to a neighbour or a friend and get a bottle, promising that you'll return one tomorrow,” Šulcas tells LRT TV. “Only in this case, you're not bringing back a bottle, but transfering some money.”

Conservative MP Paulius Saudargas disagrees. He says he plans to propose a bill to explicitly ban such practices.

“It [the bill] will say that the service of lending or storing alcohol products is forbidden and sanctioned in the same way as violations of alcohol sales rules,” Saudargas says.