Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a preliminary injunction on Wednesday aimed at trying to stop the illegal flow of liquor sales in Ohio.
This injunction, which is one of the first-ever lawsuits surrounding the 21st Amendment, comes after a month-long investigation that showed many out-of-state wine and liquor providers bypassing an Ohio law that outlaws direct shipment of these products to residents.
Ohio established this law so the state can control alcohol sales to minors, ensure appropriate tax payments, and protect state liquor businesses from illegal competition from out-of-state alcohol distributors, according to Yost’s press release.
The specific distributors named in the lawsuit are Wine.com, Winc, Wine Country Gift Baskets and Ace Spirits.
“These distributors are flagrantly skirting the law and keeping Ohio from collecting tax money it is entitled to,” Yost said. “We’re not talking nickels and dimes here. The tax revenue lost due to online liquor sales could be anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of dollars.”
“Free markets have rules to protect buyers and sellers and promote competition,” he added. “These scofflaws are gaining a competitive advantage by not paying taxes that their home-grown Ohio competitors must.”
Two companies the injunction names, Wine.com and Winc, shipped almost 700,000 pounds of wine directly to Ohioans without paying any taxes, the attorney general’s press release says.
In the lawsuit, Yost requests these alcohol distributors do the following things:
- Stop shipping wine directly to Ohioans
- Modify their websites so Ohioans can’t order alcohol directly to their homes.
- Inform employees that it is illegal to ship alcohol straight to people in Ohio.
- Create adequate disclaimers in advertisements that can be viewed within Ohio that informs people these direct alcohol shipment offers are not available in the state.
- Allow the state attorney general upon request to access their business records to see if they have been complying with Ohio liquor laws while action is pending.
“The state of Ohio will suffer irreparable harm if Wine.com, Winc, Wine Country Gift Baskets and Ace Spirits continue to violate Ohio liquor laws,” the attorney general’s complaint says. “The continued violations will threaten Ohio’s ability to effectively monitor and regulate the importation of intoxicating liquor into the state. The continued violations will also hinder the state’s ability to assess and collect excise and sales taxes on the wine sold, thereby depriving the state of revenue.”
– – –
Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected] Follow Zachery on Twitter @zacheryschmidt2