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Why Is Happy Hour Still Illegal in Boston?

“In 1984, the hours after work stopped being ‘happy’ and became just ‘meh’ when Massachusetts became the first state in the country to ban happy hour,” wrote Allison Pohle of Here are a few reasons why Boston’s drinking laws are a bit backwards, outdated, and we should reinstate happy hour:

1. Marijuana and gambling in MA? You bet. But cheaper drinks? No way.

We live in a state where casinos are flocking and doctors can prescribe marijuana for headaches – but a good time with friends and a couple bucks off drinks after work? That’s a no go.

2. Ever bought your friends a round of drinks? Welp, you’re a criminal.

In MA purchasing more than 2 drinks at once is illegal — as well as a good excuse to never buy drinks for your co-workers.

3. Drinking games, such as “water pong,” are illegal in MA.

Yes, even the ones without actual drinks. In 2013 Massachusetts banned “water pong,” the G-rated version of beer pong.

4. But you can play games and enjoy free drinks galore, as long as you’re gambling away your paycheck.

Massachusetts passed the Gaming Act in 2011, which allows you to enjoy unlimited free drinks, so long as you’re gambling at a casino.

5. Massachusetts is one of only 8 states in the country that bans happy hour.

Other “unhappy” states include the likes of Utah, Oklahoma, and Alaska. Recently Kansas and Illinois both reinstated happy hour.

6. DYK: There are 8 towns in MA where drinking is completely illegal.

They’re called “dry towns”, still living under Puritan laws of the past.

7. But doesn’t the ban save lives? The data would indicate otherwise.

It’s true that drunk driving fatalities in MA have dropped from 362 in 1984, to 133 in 2011. But what most lawmakers won’t tell you is, that’s a nationwide trend. Many states that have had happy hour for decades, like New Hampshire and California, have seen an even steeper decline.

But alas, there is hope…

8. Uber and Lyft have made it easier than ever to get around.

Push a button and your chariot awaits. The Puritans did not have that.

9. Happy hour could restore Boston’s image as a fun city

Until then we’ll have to put up with articles from New York Magazine trying to figure out if “Boston Can Ever Be Fun?”.

10. And help Boston retain top talent.

The best and brightest come to Boston for college but many take their education and leave shortly thereafter, opting for better places to be a young professional.

11. Thankfully Marty Walsh and the Late Night Task force have arrived…

“We have an opportunity here to create the kind of nightlife that visitors expect in a world-class city,” remarked Mayor Walsh. We ask him kindly to consider doing just that.

As Farah Stockman of The Boston Globe said, “To me, happy hour isn’t about slamming cheap drinks, but creating a time and place to gather and do something new. If we want to keep talented young people in Boston, we ought to try it.”

“We have a choice in front of us, Boston. We could do the same old things the same old way we’ve always done them. Or we could try the future on for size.”

If you feel similarly, let’s make a change: Share the petition and bring happy hour back to Boston.

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