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ABC: Grocery store 'Monopoly' game gave beer brand unfair advantage

Posted at 4:41 PM, Oct 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-01 19:49:02-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Albertsons LLC, Safeway Inc., and The Vons Companies, Inc. have agreed to pay at least $300,000 after an investigation by the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) over illegal business practices.

The investigation stemmed from the grocery stores' "Monopoly" game promotion, in which customers received "Monopoly" coupons toward discounts and potentially prizes. ABC said the violations arose out of sales of alcohol included in the 2018 promotion.

The "Monopoly" promotion was held at Albertsons stores, including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Pac N Save, and Pavilions locations.

The promotion advertised certain beer brands by MillerCoors as part of the game. Customers received additional chances to win prizes if they purchased those brands, according to ABC.

"This particular violation gave these retailers a competitive advantage by offering consumers a gift or premium for purchasing alcoholic beverage products," ABC Director Jacob Appelsmith said in a release.

ABC filed action against nearly 600 stores across California, accusing the companies of violation several regulations. The agency says the "California Alcoholic Beverage Control Act prohibits the giving away of premiums, gifts or free goods in connection with the sale or marketing of alcoholic beverages."

The act prevents alcohol companies from engaging in anti-competitive behavior and gaining an unfair advantage.

As part of the probe, the three companies agreed to pay $600,000 in fines, $300,000 due within 30 days and the remaining $300,000 stayed on the condition the companies violate the similar regulations over the next two years.