Anheuser-Busch Accused Of $1M Pay-To-Play Campaign In Mass

New allegations leveled against Anheuser-Busch in Massachusetts accuse the drinks giant of a $1 million pay-to-play campaign.

As first reported by the Boston Globe and then expanded upon by Brewbound, a 14-month investigation by the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) into a wholly owned Anheuser-Busch wholesaler ended with charges that the distributor illegally gave free equipment to retailers.

Altogether, the Medford, Mass-based wholesaler August A. Busch & Co stands accused of providing $1 million in complimentary Budweiser-branded coolers and draft equipment to bars and liquor stores in 2014-15. These freebees allegedly came with the understanding that their use was for the company’s products.

The ABCC pointed out that this goes against section 204 CMR 2.08 of Massachusetts General Laws:

“No licensee shall give or permit to be given money or any other thing of substantial value in any effort to induce any person to persuade or influence any other person to purchase, or contract for the purchase of any particular brand or kind of alcoholic beverages, or to persuade or influence any person to refrain from purchasing, or contracting for the purchase of any particular brand or kind of alcoholic beverages.”

The distributor has a hearing set with the ABCC for June 20.

An Anheuser-Busch spokesperson told Brewbound that the company would contest the charges.

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