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Several alcohol licenses in Bozeman and Belgrade are up for grabs in a competitive bid run by the Department of Revenue.

Two licenses are available in Bozeman, a newly created beer license with a minimum bid of $220,000 and an all-beverage “floater” license with a minimum bid of $371,250. A new all-beverage license is available in Belgrade, with a minimum bid of $262,500. The bidding ends on Oct. 30.

The “floater” license that’s available in Bozeman is a license that was originally issued to a different area that’s now above its quota for liquor licenses. Whoever wins the bid will need to also purchase the license from the licensee in an area that's over its quota. That licenses will then be moved to Bozeman, which is under its quota.

All-beverage licenses allow for beer, wine and hard liquor. Beer licenses allow only for the sale of beer, though it’s not uncommon for a beer license to be paired with a separate-but-similar wine permit. The restaurant beer and wine license is different from all of those, according to a Department of Revenue spokesperson.

Bid winners will still need to apply for the licenses, according to a news release from the Montana Department of Revenue, as well as pay a $100 fee and include a letter of credit from a financial institution in the amount of the bid. Minimum bids are set at 75% of the market value of other licenses in the area.

Montana’s liquor license laws were changed from a lottery to a bidding system during the 2017 special legislative session.

Under the state’s lottery-based system, some licenses purchased in a smaller city, like Belgrade, could be sold for a higher price to businesses in larger neighboring cities, like Bozeman, if they were in the same quota district.

The 2017 law, which went into effect in 2019, split Bozeman and Belgrade into two separate quota areas, ending that shuffle.

Under the old lottery system, licenses were inexpensive and quickly gained value. At least one alcohol license sold for over a million dollars in Gallatin County, and many went for over $500,000, according to a 2015 Chronicle article.

There are also several alcohol licenses available in other Montana communities with auctions also closing on Oct. 30. Those include another floater license and a restaurant beer and wine license in Missoula and beer licenses in Whitefish, Kalispell, Hamilton and Troy.

Full requirements and applications for the licenses can be found on the Montana Department of Revenue’s website, mtrevenue.gov.

This story has been updated to include a fuller definition of a "floater" license. 

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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