MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A group representing privately owned liquor stores in the state said it is gearing up to take legal action against the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) board.

This after the ABC board filed a state request to solicit bids from contractors to deliver alcohol from its state-run stores. An action the Alabama Beverage Licensees Association (ABLA) said is completely illegal.

The ABLA said if ABC stores are allowed to offer delivery, it would ultimately force many privately owned liquor stores to close. The group believes the state ABC stores already have a competitive advantage over independent businesses.

The ABLA said the word licensee is crucial in this fight.

Under a state alcohol delivery law, made official in October 2021, licensees are private businesses licensed by the ABC board to manufacture, distribute, or sell alcohol in the state. The ABLA argues that does not include ABC stores.

In February Joe Espy, an attorney for the ABLA, presented a letter to the ABC board in which he argued it was understood that the ABC board was not interested in alcohol delivery at all.

But according to a public filing called a request for proposals on the state division of purchasing’s website the ABC board has inquired about alcohol delivery contractors.

Monday News 19 reached out to the ABC board for comment on the allegations by the ABLA and the state filing.

Dean Argo, a spokesperson for the ABC board said, “After all we have done to assist them, we are saddened and shocked by the ABLA’s accusations and respectfully disagree about whether the law allows home delivery.”

“At present, we are merely gathering information through the RFP in order to determine if we were to provide home delivery, what would that look like, how could/can delivery companies provide the service in a safe and legal environment, and can one company provide the service or will there have to be multiple companies in order to fairly and conveniently delivery statewide.”

News 19 asked the ABC board whether it felt that offering an alcohol delivery service was illegal. Argo said the board believes the law allows it to offer home delivery service.

Argo tells News 19 that the ABC board only learned of ABLA’s discontent at a recent board meeting where the group threatened to sue. The group claims ABLA did not attempt to meet with them prior to that board meeting in February.

As it pertains to the illegality claims, Argo said the courts may have to decide whether ABC stores can offer delivery.

As of Monday afternoon, the ALBA had not yet filed suit against the ABC board.