Mailing Date: June 29, 2011
RE: Minors at Private Clubs
Dear Mr. Rohrer:
ISSUE: This office is in receipt of your e-mail dated June 10, 2011 to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (“Board”), wherein you ask under Pennsylvania liquor laws (1) what is the age requirement to sit at the bar at a private club, and (2) does a minor need to be accompanied by a parent, guardian or adult supervision to enter the licensed premises. For the purposes of this letter, it will be assumed that the private club about which you inquire has attained a club or catering club license from the Board.
OPINION: The general rule in Pennsylvania is that minors may not be present in an establishment licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. Pennsylvania law defines a minor as a “person under the age of 21 years.” [1 Pa. C.S.A. § 1991]. There are four (4) exceptions to the general rule which apply to private clubs, as follows:
1. Minors with parents (“Parent exception”)
If a minor is with one or both of the minor’s parents, then the minor is permitted to be on the premises. The minor and parent(s) can sit anywhere on the premises, including the bar area, and alcoholic beverages can be served to the parent(s) or to any other adult with the minor.
2. Minors with legal guardians (“Guardian exception”)
If a minor is with a legal guardian, then the minor is permitted to be on the premises. The minor and the legal guardian can sit anywhere on the premises, including the bar area, and alcoholic beverages can be served to the guardian or to any other adult with the minor.
3. Minors under proper supervision (“Proper supervision exception”)
If a minor is present under proper supervision, then the minor is permitted to be on the premises. Section 102 of the Liquor Code defines proper supervision as someone who is at least twenty-five (25) years of age, who is directly responsible for the care and conduct of the minor while on the premises, and who keeps the minor within his or her sight or hearing. Proper supervisors are generally unpaid volunteers. However, licensees or their employees are allowed to act as proper supervisors as long as they are not performing any other employment-related duties at the same time. [47 P.S. § 1-102].
If a minor is in the premises under proper supervision, the minor can sit anywhere on the premises, including the bar area, and alcoholic beverages can be served to any adults with the minor.
Proper supervisors can only supervise a limited number of minors. In Philadelphia, that number is five (5). In the rest of Pennsylvania, the number is twenty (20), i.e., one (1) proper supervisor can supervise up to twenty (20) minors. Notwithstanding the above limitations, if the minors are on the premises as part of a school-endorsed function, each proper supervisor can supervise up to fifty (50) minors.
4. Minors attending a social gathering (“Social gathering exception”)
If a minor is attending a social gathering, then the minor is permitted to be on the premises. A social gathering is an event marketed to or catering to minors, in whole or in part, for which at least forty-eight (48) hours advance notice has been given to the Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (“Bureau”). No alcohol can be served to anyone, even adults, at a social gathering and all alcohol must be removed from or secured by lock and key at the licensed premises.
Nevertheless, please also note that section 5.81 of the Board’s Regulations requires a club licensee to adhere to the provisions of its constitution and/or bylaws. [40 Pa. Code § 5.81]. If a particular club has provisions in its constitution and/or bylaws placing additional restrictions on the activities of minors, it must follow those provisions.
Please do not hesitate to again contact this office if you have further questions.
THIS OPINION APPLIES ONLY TO THE FACTUAL SITUATION DESCRIBED HEREIN AND DOES NOT INSULATE THE LICENSEE OR OTHERS FROM CONSEQUENCES OF CONDUCT OCCURRING PRIOR TO ITS ISSUANCE. THE PROPRIETY OF THE PROPOSED CONDUCT HAS BEEN ADDRESSED ONLY UNDER THE LIQUOR CODE AND REGULATIONS. THE LAWS AND POLICIES ON WHICH THIS OPINION IS BASED ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE BY THE LEGISLATURE OR THE PENNSYLVANIA LIQUOR CONTROL BOARD.
Very truly yours,
FAITH S. DIEHL
cc: Pennsylvania State Police,
Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement
Jerry W. Waters, Director of Office of Regulatory Affairs
Tisha Albert, Acting Director, Bureau of Licensing
LCB Advisory Opinion No. 11-264