The Costco-sponsored initiative that would make approximately 1,500 Washington grocery stores eligible to sell hard liquor would generate as much $253 million for the state and an additional $227 million for local governments over a period of six years, according to a recent state budget report. Meanwhile, annual costs to the state are estimated at only $158,600.
This report—one of many compiled by the state's Office of Financial Management, as Eli noted earlier—cautions that it's hard to pinpoint the precise revenue impacts of Costco's Initiative 1183 because—aside from license fees—the bulk of the state's revenue would be largely determined by liquor prices set by retailers. But according to the report, liquor revenues could increase by as much as $42 million annually for the state and $38 million for local municipalities, over the course of six years. Those numbers don't take into account an additional net $28.4 million from selling off the Washington's liquor distribution center.
If approved by voters in November, I-1183 would make all grocery outlets with more than 10,000 square feet of retail space eligible to sell liquor (a grandfather clause in the initiative also allows current state-run stores to continue operating, if they so choose). The report notes that this would likely increase the number of liquor stores operating in the state from roughly 360 to 1,428, and jump sales of liquor (by the liter) an additional five percent (on top of the predicted annual sales growth of three percent).
If Washington voters approve I-1183, retailers could begin selling liquor on June 1, 2012.