The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board wants to set up a statewide network of 100 satellite wine kiosks.
The agency is soliciting proposals for a five-year contract to operate and maintain the kiosks, requiring that it be done at no cost to the state or PLCB. Each temperature-controlled kiosk will stock about 500 bottles for sale.
Such vending machines selling alcoholic beverages have been in use in Japan, Singapore and some European countries, but security issues and restrictive liquor laws have made their development and use elsewhere very limited.
The PLCB is addressing these issues in the requirements for contractors. According to guidelines posted on its Web site at www.lcb.state.pa.us, all transactions will be monitored "via remote video and audio links" and the successful contractor must ensure that the kiosks will prevent sales to minors and intoxicated people.
Also, because the kiosks will be in public settings, "the PLCB is seeking a solution that prevents the viewing of wines in the wine kiosks by minors."
PLCB spokesman Nick Hays said he could not provide more specifics because of a "quiet period" that's required during the submission and evaluation of proposals.
One of those briefed on the proposal was Wendell Young IV, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, whose members include state store clerks. Mr. Young said the kiosk "looks like a giant institutional Sub-Zero refrigerator" with high-tech security identification measures such as fingerprints and biometric readings.
First-time users would have to register to use the kiosks, and purchases would have to be made with credit card, debit card or PLCB gift card .
Mr. Young foresees the kiosks being set up within grocery stores or malls. "You're not going to put these up at bus stops, or on a street corner, like a Coke or Pepsi vending machine."
Steve Twedt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1963.