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Las Vegas ponders liquor store at airport

By A. Pawlowski, CNN
McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, is one of only two U.S. airports to have slot machines.
McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, is one of only two U.S. airports to have slot machines.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Commissioners move closer to approving a liquor store at McCarran International
  • If approved, this would be the only liquor store operating inside a U.S. airport
  • The store would sell beer, wine and spirits "for off-site consumption only"
  • "We're different, and it's about tourism, and it's about making money," commissioner says

(CNN) -- You can already gamble at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, and soon you may be able to buy a bottle of wine, or something stronger, as you're waiting to pick up your luggage after a flight.

Commissioners in Clark County, which owns the airport, on Tuesday moved one step closer toward approving a liquor store at the airport's south baggage claim area by voting to seek out applications from parties interested in running such a facility.

The store would sell beer, wine and spirits "for off-site consumption only," according to the proposal.

Many of the country's airports already have bars, but if approved, this would be the only liquor store operating inside a U.S. airport, said Randall Walker, the county's director of aviation.

Outside the United States, many airports do have stores where passengers can buy duty-free items, including liquor, upon arrival, he added.

"We're struggling just like everybody else with our revenues," Walker said, calling the liquor store a potential new source of money.

He estimated it could bring in $400,000 to $600,000 annually for the airport.

Many of the commissioners were impressed. Chris Giunchigliani called it a "unique idea," and Tom Collins also gave it a thumbs up.

"We're different, and it's about tourism, and it's about making money, and it's about getting our economy turned around," Collins said.

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But Commissioner Steve Sisolak said he wanted to have more input from the community on the issue, citing the frequent presence of children and families in baggage claim.

"I personally don't know if it's appropriate," Sisolak added.

Open containers are legal in the Las Vegas airport today, Walker said. Bars and restaurants don't encourage customers to leave their premises with alcoholic drinks but people won't get arrested if they do, Walker said.

"We don't want to have rowdy, unruly passengers at the airport, obviously that's not good for anybody," Walker said.

Any problems would be dealt with by the airport's team of police officers, he added.

The airport has a cigar store in the arrivals area, but has had no problems with people violating its no-smoking policy, Walker said.

Visitors already know the Sin City facility is unique.

McCarran is one of only two airports in the country to have slot machines -- the other is in Reno, Nevada.