Pennsylvania governor signs law expanding wine sales to private stores

Tom Wolf delivers a speech after being sworn in as the 47th Governor of Pennsylvania during an inauguration at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania January 20, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Makela

(Reuters) - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on Wednesday signed into law new measures to expand the sale of bottled wine to certain private stores, a move that could generate millions in state revenues through taxes and licensing fees.

Pennsylvania is one of just two U.S. states, along with Utah, with full control over its liquor sale system - owning and operating retail and wholesale operations.

“This is truly a historic day for Pennsylvania and the most significant step the commonwealth has taken to reform our liquor system in 80 years,” Wolf said in a statement.

The new legislation, passed by lawmakers on Tuesday, moves wine sales beyond the state’s publicly run system, allowing supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants and hotels that already have licenses for carry-out beer to sell up to four bottles of wine to customers. [nL1N18Z1W7]

It also expands direct wine shipments by the case; liquor, wine and beer sales at casinos; and hours of operation at state stores, including on Sundays. The move is expected to increase retail wine sales overall and could add more than $150 million to state coffers.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is the largest purchaser of wine and spirits in the United States. The state has an 18 percent liquor tax.

Reporting by Hilary Russ in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr